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Australian teen lottery winner still goes to work

After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: Australian teen lottery winner still goes to work
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By Allison Cooke and Beverley Hadgraft

Seven months ago, I was a typical 19-year-old working in a Melbourne [Australia] warehouse, packing books and earning $17 an hour to help pay my way through university. Then, suddenly, I was a millionaire.

Have I been partying ever since? No. I'm one of four kids from a single-parent family doing it tough and Mum has instilled in me the value of a dollar.

I won my prize last November after buying two tickets for a BoysTown lottery — a charity that helps disadvantaged children, young people and families. I didn't imagine for one second I'd actually win — it simply seemed to be an easy way to donate money to charity — so when I received the phone call, I could hardly believe it.

BoysTown told me I was the owner of a $1.3 million luxury beach apartment on the Gold Coast, $52,000 worth of furniture and electrical goods, $70,000 of gold bullion and a $6000 travel voucher.

When I rushed home to tell Mum, she didn't believe me; I had to call BoysTown and ask them to confirm I was telling the truth. Meanwhile, my siblings, Ashleigh, 18, Melanie, 12, and Tom, 9, were jumping up and down with excitement. My friends were shocked, too. None of us could believe it was possible to suddenly have so much at our age.

My friend James kept repeating, "You won a house? You won a house!" He went on about it for 20 minutes. I was happy he was so pleased. We were good friends and shortly afterwards we became a couple — it had nothing to do with me winning the lottery, though. He's a great guy and we're still together. We would've ended up together anyway.

Once the thrill of telling everyone about my win had died down, it all seemed quite scary, so I sort of ignored it. Mum suggested I cash in the gold and put the money in the bank to earn interest. She pointed out it was enough for a deposit on a house. I liked the idea; it still hadn't sunk in that I already owned an apartment.

I used some of the cash to settle a couple of debts. Mum had lent me money for a performing arts tour in high school and a modelling course. I'd been paying her back bit by bit, but it was great to be able to give her the full $7000 — plus a little more, because she's Mum and she works hard! I also bought her a barbecue for Christmas because she'd always wanted one. I used the travel vouchers for a family holiday at my apartment on the Gold Coast, and finally had a chance to see it for myself.

The apartment is beautiful. It has ocean views, three bedrooms, a huge spa bath and even a media room. It reminds me of a hotel. It took me a few months to really appreciate it belongs to me. Once I finally became used to the idea, I began to rent it out. I'll save the money until I have enough to put a deposit on a house I can live in.

Although many people might think I haven't had much fun with my winnings — I haven't bought so much as a new dress — they'd be completely wrong.

I've stopped working in the warehouse full-time. Now I only work one day a week to fit in with my university schedule. If I didn't have a job, I'd feel strange. I've been raised with the mentality that you should work for what you want. But it's great I can enjoy my science studies and my time at university without constantly worrying about not having enough money to eat whenever I drop a shift. So many students don't have that privilege.

But most important of all, the money and other prizes have given me security. It's given me an amazing start to my adult life and I'm not going to waste it.

Occasionally I do think, I'm only 19 and I'm a millionaire! But I quickly put that thought out of my mind — I don't want to become a self-absorbed person wrapped up in money. I'm just going to keep my head straight, work hard and do good things.

The winners' curse

The way Cooke has treated her win might sound unusual, but it's exactly what psychologist and former president of the Australian Psychological Society, professor Bob Montgomery, says all lottery winners should do.

"Most winners don't do anything substantial with the money. Some evidence suggests people actually end up worse off after a windfall. They're inexperienced in handling large sums of money and quickly go through it with nothing significant to show at the end. Then they feel worse than before, because they think they were handed a great chance and threw it away," he says.

"My advice is to take out enough of your winnings to have a holiday and pay off essential bills. Then put away the rest in a term deposit for at least six months and seek expert advice. This takes great skill in delayed gratification, though, which is probably why most people don't do it."

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Herald Sun

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45 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by haymaker.
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dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
Oklahoma
United States
Member #82391
November 12, 2009
4900 Posts
Offline
Posted: June 24, 2012, 9:44 am - IP Logged

Congrats Ms. Cooke on your winnings. It's nice to read about a young person that is doing the right thing with their winnings, you are a very bright young lady & I wish you all the best in all your endeavors

Thumbs Upto Momma Cooke, for instilling GOOD VALUES in your daughter!!!!!!

Win BIG everyone....White Bounce

I Love Pink & Green 1908

    MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
    North Jersey
    United States
    Member #5709
    July 18, 2004
    17147 Posts
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    Posted: June 24, 2012, 10:53 am - IP Logged

    I too, wish this young lady an abundance of congratulations. Not for just the monetary aspect, but for her values and common sense , also kudos to her Mother for keeping her on course. She could be a model to a lot of people...!

                                                                Your Best Teacher, is Your First Mistake.

      Avatar
      Minnesnowta
      United States
      Member #125224
      March 27, 2012
      79 Posts
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      Posted: June 24, 2012, 11:07 am - IP Logged

      Gay

      Making dreams on a 1-175 million chance...

      Fools we are.

        LottoGuyBC's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
        British Columbia
        Canada
        Member #116105
        September 4, 2011
        3372 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: June 24, 2012, 12:07 pm - IP Logged

        Most winners don't do anything substantial with the money

        Thud

        "You have to be in it to win it!"

          maringoman's avatar - kobold
          Massachusetts
          United States
          Member #37433
          April 14, 2006
          1796 Posts
          Online
          Posted: June 24, 2012, 12:20 pm - IP Logged

          Is their economy that good? $17 an hour packing books?? ( 1 USD is equivalent to 1 Australian Dollar). It must be a union job. Good for them.

          I'm glad she seems sensible with the money but she should remember that the devil is in the details. That sudden fortunes change people bad.

          Alright, my turn.

            maximumfun's avatar - Lottery-064.jpg

            United States
            Member #124621
            March 16, 2012
            1475 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: June 24, 2012, 1:12 pm - IP Logged

            So she doesnt have 1.5M$A cash... but has 70k$A and a 1.3M$A luxury condo w/ sundry & furnishings. 

            smart move on her part to rent it out... how are condos/owned apartments taxed 'down under'?  I would think she would NEED to rent it out just to make sure that she can cover the associated expenses that go along with owning the property.

            Good for her for not 'cashing out' and going wild.  Her parental unit(s) did a fine job in instilling reasonable values (apparently).

            Very good continued luck to Allison and her family!

              DC81's avatar - batman39
              MI
              United States
              Member #54830
              August 31, 2007
              969 Posts
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              Posted: June 24, 2012, 3:47 pm - IP Logged

              Is their economy that good? $17 an hour packing books?? ( 1 USD is equivalent to 1 Australian Dollar). It must be a union job. Good for them.

              I'm glad she seems sensible with the money but she should remember that the devil is in the details. That sudden fortunes change people bad.

              Cost of living is much higher in Australia due to a number of factors.

              You can't predict random.

                haymaker's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
                egg harbor twp.south jersey shore
                United States
                Member #112972
                June 29, 2011
                3059 Posts
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                Posted: June 24, 2012, 3:56 pm - IP Logged

                Is their economy that good? $17 an hour packing books?? ( 1 USD is equivalent to 1 Australian Dollar). It must be a union job. Good for them.

                I'm glad she seems sensible with the money but she should remember that the devil is in the details. That sudden fortunes change people bad.

                Never heard of a union position where you could work one day a week.

                Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds    -- Charles Mackay  LL.D.

                  Erzulieredeyes's avatar - spider miss.png
                  Painesville, Ohio
                  United States
                  Member #117722
                  October 12, 2011
                  100 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: June 24, 2012, 5:26 pm - IP Logged

                  Lucky her.

                   

                  I cross my fingers and hope I win the YMCA dream house this year!

                    dpoly1's avatar - driver
                    PA
                    United States
                    Member #66141
                    October 16, 2008
                    1422 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: June 24, 2012, 9:08 pm - IP Logged

                    Big mistake if she cashed in all of the gold. Otherwise she was pretty wise. As for the cost of living there, blame it on the Socialism and the Unions! Same story in Europe!

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

                     

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

                      rdgrnr's avatar - walt
                      -Ridge Runner- Oracle of the Appalachians
                      Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
                      United States
                      Member #73904
                      April 28, 2009
                      14736 Posts
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                      Posted: June 24, 2012, 9:14 pm - IP Logged

                      Never heard of a union position where you could work one day a week.

                      I knew of union jobs where you didn't have to work any days a week at all but still got paid for 40 straight and 20 overtime.

                      On second thought, I don't know nuttin'.


                                                                   
                                           
                                                               

                       

                       

                       

                       

                                                                                                                         

                      "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

                                                                                                                  --Edmund Burke

                       

                       

                        RedStang's avatar - mustangstu zps4c591ef5.jpg
                        Dutchess , NY
                        United States
                        Member #121966
                        January 21, 2012
                        2319 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: June 24, 2012, 9:22 pm - IP Logged

                        Weird a55 picture at a BMW dealership.

                          haymaker's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
                          egg harbor twp.south jersey shore
                          United States
                          Member #112972
                          June 29, 2011
                          3059 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: June 24, 2012, 9:50 pm - IP Logged

                          I knew of union jobs where you didn't have to work any days a week at all but still got paid for 40 straight and 20 overtime.

                          On second thought, I don't know nuttin'.

                          Yea, thats one thing that went the wrong way, If I work 38 I get 38, thats It,

                          Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds    -- Charles Mackay  LL.D.

                            haymaker's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
                            egg harbor twp.south jersey shore
                            United States
                            Member #112972
                            June 29, 2011
                            3059 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: June 24, 2012, 9:51 pm - IP Logged

                            Weird a55 picture at a BMW dealership.

                            Do you mean the girl on the bike looks like a 55 pic. ?

                            Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds    -- Charles Mackay  LL.D.