We’ve all heard the phrase ‘do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life’ – but what if you never had to work another day in your life? Many lottery winners often face this decision.
To many of the 45 million UK players of The National Lottery, winning a huge jackpot would be the ‘golden ticket’ to a work-free life and an opportunity to tick off adventures and desires on their bucket list.
However, many lottery winners decide to keep their jobs for several reasons, such as maintaining good mental health, for fulfilment or setting an example to their children.
In fact, Lottoland UK recommends that lottery winners should keep their job, suggesting that ‘The alternatives to quitting your job can make you feel far happier, more contented, grounded and satisfied in your life’.
But, is it fair? Should those who win large lottery jackpots feel any moral obligation to quit their job, allowing their place to those who financially require it more?
The Millionaire Who Works Supermarket Night-Shifts
One lottery winner’s story hit headlines in September as she revealed that, despite winning £2.7 million on The National Lottery 25 years ago, she has maintained her day job as a customer assistant in Marks and Spencer.
Elaine Thompson, 64, from Killingworth, North Tyneside, became a millionaire in December 1995 after winning The National Lottery.
She often works night shifts, leaving the house at 1.15am in the morning. Elaine worked in M&S throughout the Covid-19 lockdown.
She told the Daily Mail that her and her husband decided to keep their jobs in order to be good role models for their children.
Speaking to presenter Anne Diamond on the Jeremy Vine Show, Elaine said:
“My children, when we won, were only five and ten, back in 1995. How can you sit at home doing nothing and ask your children to get their GCSEs or O Levels and then go off to university, work hard and get a degree so that they can have a decent job.
“If they see me working, their work ethic will be pounded into them.”
Elaine explained on the topical breakfast TV show that she gifted £1 million of her winnings to her brother and used some of the remaining money to help her children get on the property ladder.
‘I couldn’t have wished to be any happier’, Elaine told the panel.
Not all viewers agreed with Elaine’s decision to keep her supermarket job.
One viewer tweeted:
‘Although I admire her work ethic, she’s keeping a job from someone who desperately needs it and is struggling on benefits’.
Another viewer replied:
‘I think when there are so many people desperate for a job it is immoral for her to stay in hers. If she wants to work she can either set up a business and create jobs or do voluntary work. the lottery win is wasted on her.’
Claire Roach, money blogger and CEO of Money Saving Central also struggles to fathom the reasons why a millionaire would decide to keep their day job. Speaking to Unsaid, she said:
“Jobs are so few and far between these days that I find it unfair for someone to keep a job that could be someone else’s lifeline – someone that genuinely needs the money.
“I totally understand that some people love their jobs and their friendships and routine that comes with it, but with millions of pounds at their disposal, it seems greedy to cling on to it.
“With a large win, you could become your own boss, set up a business doing something similar, or even a charity, the possibilities are endless. You could even create further jobs for people and make your fortune even bigger.
“That job could be an absolute lifeline for someone else, so for me, any cons about leaving a job are completely outweighed by the pros.’
According to a YouGov survey, it would take the average person in the UK a win of more than £2 million before deciding to quit their jobs.
4% responded that they would need £10m before even considering quitting.
8% said they would continue to work regardless of the amount of money won.
Unsaid asked Twitter followers whether or not they would keep their day job if they won the lottery. One user replied:
“I’d still work in some capacity, probably pursuing something I love for less or irregular pay as opposed to working a job I like or am indifferent to for the sake of financial security.”
Another user wrote:
“Ultimately, it is for the winner to decide how they spend their time after winning – whether that’s working, volunteering or going back to university to study something you love.
“I understand that maybe if you win a lot of money, you’d decide to keep your job to retain a sense of normality. But when the job market is so tough – especially with the effects of Covid – you’d hope that those millionaires who are working nightshifts just because they enjoy it might work a little less, so that there are more shifts on offer for those who really need it right now.”
Anyone who wins over £500,000 on The National Lottery is offered various forms of financial support and advice by Camelot, the group responsible for running the UK National Lottery.