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Lottery winner recounts harassment after claiming prize

After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: Lottery winner recounts harassment after claiming prize
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The shock of winning $21.4 million in a lottery was nothing compared to the jolts Craig Henshaw felt later.

They were not pleasant.

The story of Craig Henshaw, multi-millionaire, began one day last September when Craig Henshaw, high school teacher, went digging through his pockets for the $35 he had left to pay for some groceries. He had just enough cash to get him through the rest of the week, before the first paycheck of the new school year would come through.

He handed over the cash, plus a 2-month-old Lotto Max ticket. It had been plastered to the side of his fridge while he had spent the summer backpacking in Europe with his girlfriend.

(See Toronto teacher claims $21.4M lottery jackpot, Lottery Post, Sept. 29, 2011.)

Loud bells and alarms went off. The phone on the lottery machine began to ring.

"Initially, I thought I'd won $21,000," Henshaw, 43, says. "Then the lady on the other end of the phone chuckled. It turned out that the digital readout on the ticket machine didn't have enough space for all the digits."

"No, Mr. Henshaw, you've won $21 million!" the lady told him.

The rest of the day, Henshaw says, was "surreal."

But the thrill of the millions evaporated quickly. Over the next few weeks his world became a whirlwind of broken friendships and financial scams.

Henshaw couldn't even return to his cozy loft apartment after collecting his cheque. He spent the first few weeks living in a hotel, mainly in an attempt to duck the media and stalkers.

"Six hours after I won, some scam artist had already managed to get my credit card number. The charities started hammering me immediately," Henshaw says, smacking his fist into his hand.

"My email inbox was full, and my phone was flooded with text messages. People were asking me to pay off student loans. I got 365 texts in the first day."

Eight months after his windfall, Henshaw is in a reflective mood as we sit in a pub for an interview. Five years ago, I was a student in his classroom at Markville Secondary School in Markham, where he taught woodshop and technology.

Teaching was his passion, and still is. But as odd as it sounds, the money did get in the way.

In the aftermath of his lottery win, what hurt most, he says, was the reaction from his colleagues. Teachers whom Henshaw considered friends were suddenly badgering him to pay off their credit-card bills. His school board email was completely flooded.

The workplace environment became toxic. After a decade of teaching, he made the decision to resign.

"Unfortunately, I've had to say goodbye to about 25 per cent of my friends because they were acting really inappropriately," Henshaw says. "They were asking for money, and being really pushy about it. The friends who I really cherish didn't really care at all."

"It was a really sad day for teaching," says Don Henshaw, Craig's father. "He was a born teacher. It was all he ever wanted to do, and now he had to leave teaching."

"The thing about teachers is that you'll always be a teacher. That's just who you are," Craig says. "I could always volunteer. I always taught for the sheer joy of it, and getting a paycheck was just a bonus."

Consequently, Henshaw now wrestles with his identity. As a teacher, he spent most of his life working hard, more enamored with the passion of being an educator than earning a paycheck. Like many, he worried about his student loans, credit-card debt, and making ends meet until the next payday.

"I used to be the guy who bought no-name cheese, and suddenly I could buy everything in the house just by snapping my fingers. How do you process that? How do you get used to it?" Craig says. "I know a lot of people will say that those are the problems of the 1 per cent. Well, yeah, but I'm still part of the 99 percent. I just have a bunch of money all of a sudden. I didn't get any sleep at all that first month. I have to figure out who Craig Henshaw is. I'm still working on it."

Henshaw's desire to educate is evident in the way he has spent his winnings thus far.

He's set up education funds for his nieces and nephews. His cleaning lady, whom he described as being on the lower end of the economic spectrum, will be returning to school thanks to his financial aid.

Henshaw believes people should be given a chance to learn. Instead of donating chunks of money to charities, he has opted to set up scholarship funds at his alma mater, the University of Western Ontario.

"I want to call it the Craig Henshaw Nice Guy Award. I want to give it to people who are enrolled in an arts program, that do a lot of graphics work," Craig says, chuckling. "You know, the ones that always show up early and stay late at the art openings, and they do stuff to make the community a better place. Then there's going to be the Craig Henshaw Nice Girl Award, which will be the same thing, but for the girls."

Even with a near-limitless amount of cash, Henshaw hasn't embarked on the spending spree many people fantasize about. He now lives in an inconspicuous apartment in downtown Toronto. Nothing about his residence or wardrobe screams the fact that he's a multi-millionaire. He has assigned himself a steady allowance that's enough to enjoy life, but modest enough that it wouldn't turn heads.

Mike Nadal, a career counsellor at York University's Schulich School of Business, approves of Henshaw's modest spending strategy.

"There are two rules," said Nadal, a former financial advisor who spent four years advising high-net-worth clients. "The first is not to lose the money. The second is not to forget rule number one."

That was easier said than done on that day he picked up his cheque from the Lotto office.

The first thing he did with the money?

"I took everyone out for a celebratory dinner at a steakhouse. I didn't know my credit card number had been stolen yet, so my card was declined," Henshaw says. "I had to turn to my father and ask him for his credit card to pay for the meal."

He's learned much since then.

"The bank people were really good. They listened for about a month straight. They asked me what I was comfortable with, and told me about the risks with my now-portfolio."

"You don't get thrown into the business, you know. It's not like, 'Oh, and I want a thousand dollars on this' or anything. What they do is take your money and invest it. Essentially, I don't even get my money," Henshaw says, with a bemused smile. "I get an allowance. It's not a huge amount, but it's enough to comfortably enjoy life."

It has also bought him the time re-establish some family relationships.

"I spent the last 20 years working my ass off to try and be somebody, and I neglected my family," he says. "Now I get the chance to try and re-establish all of the relationships that I used to wish I had time for.

"I've seen my father and mom more in the last six months than I had in years. I was always working. But now I have the time to spend with my family. My parents are in the sunset years of their life, and I want to make that sunset bright-orange."

Henshaw has heard that it takes about a year for the stress of a lottery win to settle. "I'd like to travel," he says. "Next winter, I just want to take a month and be a beach bum somewhere."

Craig Henshaw and I have been sitting in a dimly lit pub on the Danforth on a rainy Monday afternoon.

At the end of our interview, Craig calls for our bill. I offer to pay, but my former high school teacher will have none of it.

He slices off $70 from a small ball of bills and lays it down on the table.

"Hey, don't worry about it," he says, laughing. "I'm unemployed. I can afford it!"

Toronto Star

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79 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by TheGameGrl.
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Atlanta, GA
United States
Member #13514
April 7, 2005
210 Posts
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Posted: May 8, 2012, 8:56 am - IP Logged

Yet another story about how people have expectations off someone else winning the lottery.  Just because a freind or relative happens to win does not entitle you to one red cent!!!!  If they want to help you out that's one thing, but they don't HAVE to help you out.


    United States
    Member #111446
    May 25, 2011
    6323 Posts
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    Posted: May 8, 2012, 8:59 am - IP Logged

    Henshaw is one the few who genuinely appreciates and respects his windfall. From what he's done so far, he will do well, live long and prosper.

    It sucks that his life long passion of teaching had to be compromised because of his leaching "friends"  Group Hug

      zinniagirl's avatar - flower avatar_0026.jpg
      nc
      United States
      Member #99522
      October 26, 2010
      223 Posts
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      Posted: May 8, 2012, 9:07 am - IP Logged

      Glad to know that this winner has his head on straight and is doing well!

        Cletu$2's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
        S.E.Iowa
        United States
        Member #120509
        December 21, 2011
        534 Posts
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        Posted: May 8, 2012, 9:09 am - IP Logged

        It just shows how your money changes other people.People that you think are friends turn into greedy a%&holes and expect YOU to pay off THEIR debts.Another reason to remain anonymous when you collect your winnings.

        When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it. ~Clarence Darrow

        There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on senators. ~Will Rogers

          dk1421's avatar - Lottery-024.jpg
          North Carolina
          United States
          Member #64582
          September 1, 2008
          332 Posts
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          Posted: May 8, 2012, 9:35 am - IP Logged

          This made me sad. All those people he thought were friends.... 

          Hmm. You know, maybe some of them were joking and because he was in a pissy mood from other people really wanting money, he couldn't see the difference between the real jerks and the ones joking. Yeah, I'm trying to put a positive spin on it. It's such a shame.

          Again, another good reason to go anonymous if you can.

          I do admire him for having only an allowance and not overspending.

          Also, I think the key here is that he can now volunteer and help others without worrying about needing to get paid. He could help out with adult literacy, the Boys & Girls Club (don't they need homework helpers?), tutor low-income kids, and more. There is so much out there he can do with his teacher's degree. But he needs to make sure his "fame" is not known. Definite repercussions if he's helping drug-users learn to read and they realize he has money. And no, I'm not "profiling" as it happened to a friend of my sibling. His death affected hundreds of people.

          "Don't be a schmuck, always take the cash." -Coin Toss


            Bahamas
            Member #114689
            August 5, 2011
            422 Posts
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            Posted: May 8, 2012, 9:39 am - IP Logged

            He signed his own ticket

             

            He leveraged the expertise of industry experts to invest his money

             

            He made NO his favorite word

             

            He is pacing himself as he digests the reality of being rich!

             

            TAKE NOTES PEOPLE. I'm tired reading sob stories of peope getting screwed royally after a win

            "Freedom of Speech? Keep reading and you will discover that freedom comes at a price!"

              TnTicketlosers's avatar - Lottery-065.jpg

              United States
              Member #71120
              February 19, 2009
              932 Posts
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              Posted: May 8, 2012, 9:46 am - IP Logged

              I have a very good story also.I got to leave the harrasment and bullying from other team members,job from you know where because I stopped playing the Tennessee Lottery.and now I'm dept free myself......What a joy that you can recieve when you  give up the devil and have something wonderful in return...What a good life. US Flag

                sully16's avatar - sharan
                Listens to the wind

                United States
                Member #81740
                October 28, 2009
                17947 Posts
                Online
                Posted: May 8, 2012, 9:48 am - IP Logged

                Congrats on your win, I hope you find some peace.

                There's only one US Flag


                  United States
                  Member #111446
                  May 25, 2011
                  6323 Posts
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                  Posted: May 8, 2012, 9:54 am - IP Logged

                  I have a very good story also.I got to leave the harrasment and bullying from other team members,job from you know where because I stopped playing the Tennessee Lottery.and now I'm dept free myself......What a joy that you can recieve when you  give up the devil and have something wonderful in return...What a good life. US Flag

                  Congrat's on becoming debt free TTL! The devil needs a good kickin' now and again.   Yes Nod     Red Devil

                    dpoly1's avatar - driver
                    PA
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                    Member #66141
                    October 16, 2008
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                    Posted: May 8, 2012, 9:55 am - IP Logged

                    Yet another story about the Greed of Envy

                    "boo hoo hoo, you have yours, what about mine" Crying

                    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                    Eschew childish behavior and vote for Conservatives US Flag

                    Stop The Regime in 2012  Patriot

                    dpoly1 - Playing the lottery to save the jobs of those that build, transport, sell & maintain luxury items! -

                     

                    Eschew Poverty ........... Vote Conservative!

                      smooth11484's avatar - Lottery-053.jpg
                      ohio
                      United States
                      Member #125203
                      March 26, 2012
                      1717 Posts
                      Online
                      Posted: May 8, 2012, 10:19 am - IP Logged

                      im CONFUSED, how come most jackpot winners are people who are "low on money" like it always the same story "i put my last 1 dollar on it and i won millions"

                        dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
                        Oklahoma
                        United States
                        Member #82391
                        November 12, 2009
                        4910 Posts
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                        Posted: May 8, 2012, 10:36 am - IP Logged

                        Congrats to the winner.....

                        Win BIG everyone....White Bounce

                        I Love Pink & Green 1908

                          Cletu$2's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
                          S.E.Iowa
                          United States
                          Member #120509
                          December 21, 2011
                          534 Posts
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                          Posted: May 8, 2012, 10:43 am - IP Logged

                          im CONFUSED, how come most jackpot winners are people who are "low on money" like it always the same story "i put my last 1 dollar on it and i won millions"

                          Could it be the economy?Lots of people are spending their last dollar on lottery tickets these days.

                          I'm broke.Maybe I'll win the MegaMillions tonight!!

                          When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it. ~Clarence Darrow

                          There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on senators. ~Will Rogers


                            Bahamas
                            Member #114689
                            August 5, 2011
                            422 Posts
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                            Posted: May 8, 2012, 11:02 am - IP Logged

                            Could it be the economy?Lots of people are spending their last dollar on lottery tickets these days.

                            I'm broke.Maybe I'll win the MegaMillions tonight!!

                            I can arrange to be broke - lol!

                            "Freedom of Speech? Keep reading and you will discover that freedom comes at a price!"