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What it's like to tell people they won the lottery for a living

Aug 2, 2018, 7:21 am

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At every lottery in the world, there's a person who calls winners to inform them their lives have changed. In Australia, one of those guys is Matt Hart. He works at Australia's largest lottery operator, The Lott, and every day, Matt makes very weird and often emotional phone calls.

Over the course of his career, Matt estimates he has called over 400 people, each one with their own unique story and reaction. We spoke with Matt to hear about what that's like, and what he's learned about luck.

Question: Hey Matt, how does it feel giving away money?

Matt Hart: You feel like a cross between the Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny when delivering the prize money. When you think about it, it's quite surreal that we just interrupt someone's life, every morning, to deliver the news that they've won a top prize and they're now a millionaire or multi-millionaire. We have this little insight into their lives — it's a real emotional thing for many people, we hear about their hopes and dreams of what they'd always thought they'd do with a million-dollar win.

What's the best winner's story you've ever heard?

Last year, I had a call that really made me realize what a difference money can make. I once told a woman she'd just won a million dollars and she started crying — but it was a deep cry. It wasn't the usual happy tears. And in the course of the conversation, she explained that she was dying of terminal cancer. So her tears were this sort of huge relief and happiness because it meant that her husband could stop work for a bit and they could spend time together, tick everything off their bucket list that they could, while they had time together. It was one of the most emotional phone calls I've had because you could tell from her reaction that it meant so much to her. Even thinking about her now, it really makes me emotional.

What's the most excited reaction you've had?

Often there are private syndicates, a group of friends, or workmates who have gone in together. It's always nice that they're sharing that win and experience together. There was a bunch of friends in South Australia, young guys, and they were just absolutely going off. Basically, yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs and jumping up and down. I think anyone nearby would have heard them.

Have you ever had to convince winners that you actually work for the lottery?

Yeah, it happens often. It probably has to do with two things: People believe that it'll never happen to them, or they say I've never won anything in their lives, so they can't believe they've won the lottery. My very first call was a guy in Sydney, he thought it was a prank call and said, "If you call me again I'll call the police!" and he hung up on me. We eventually united him with his money and he was really apologetic. A lot of people won't believe it until they see the money in their account.

Do people just blow it all?

One of the common misconceptions is that people just blow it all in a short space of time. When we've followed up with people, years down the road, they've usually used it wisely. It's almost this fear of not spending it wisely spurs them to make good decisions and make sure it will benefit them for a long time. We had one lady who won and she was going to get a new car door, but not a new car. She said, "My car's fine, I just need a new door."

What are some of the more interesting ways you've people spend winnings? 

We've had a lot of quirky winners. We had one guy who wanted to go become a Buddhist monk. Another winner bought a rhinestone dog collar for her dog because she purchased her winning entry while buying dog food so believed her dog helped her win. I asked another winner what they were going to do with their win, and he said, "Oh, I'm going to the dentist." Or my favorite was a Darwin man who said, "I'm going to go get a haircut." It seemed so trivial and it was clearly on their mind but they didn't quite have the resources to do it beforehand.

Do you ever get numb to the emotion of the job?

No, never. There's something really special about it. On Monday morning, you can never think, oh its back to work. It's hard to have Mondayitis when you're giving away a couple of million dollars. And because you're dealing with people, it does keep things fresh because you never know who's going to answer.

How many winners do you think you've called and how much lotto money have you given away?

I'd estimate eight to ten a week. That's mostly people who have won $10,000 — through to the biggest prize I've given away which was $50 million.

Do you tell people at dinner parties what you do for work?

Yes. I usually go straight to the top and say I call lotto winners. People are always keen to make sure I have their phone number just in case I need to call them. People are really interested in the lottery in lots of ways that aren't about winning. They're fascinated by the balls, the draw machine, and how it works. People are ultimately interested in the lottery because we all like to dream of what we would do if money was no object.

Has this job effected how you see luck or the way you value money?

I don't believe in luck. It's a game of chance so it could happen or could not happen. If you want to take part in the game you just need an entry. At times, it makes me feel a bit blasé about numbers. Like oh, right I'm giving away $600,000. But then I think that's actually a lot of money. Because we're dealing with such a spectrum of prizes you forget the true value of it.

Vice

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11 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by music*.
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Avatar
Simpsonville
United States
Member #163184
January 22, 2015
2232 Posts
Online
Posted: August 2, 2018, 8:09 am - IP Logged

Imagine being on the receiving end stating you won $50 million! 

So correct me if I'm wrong, you can stay anonymous and wondering if winnings are tax free?

 

Talk about a dream job...

    Raven62's avatar - binary
    25
    New Jersey
    United States
    Member #17842
    June 28, 2005
    127630 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: August 2, 2018, 8:10 am - IP Logged

    All you have to do is figure out how to get on the list to be called!

    A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

    Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

    Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.

      CDanaT's avatar - Nolz june15.jpg
      Central TN
      United States
      Member #121189
      January 4, 2012
      4673 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: August 2, 2018, 9:15 am - IP Logged

      Now THAT..... would be a fantastic job to have.

      Integrity: There is just no substitute.

        Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
        100
        Zeta Reticuli Star System
        United States
        Member #30469
        January 17, 2006
        11491 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: August 2, 2018, 10:13 am - IP Logged

        Imagine being on the receiving end stating you won $50 million! 

        So correct me if I'm wrong, you can stay anonymous and wondering if winnings are tax free?

         

        Talk about a dream job...

        Are winnings taxable?

        Although no tax is deducted from Australian lottery prizes, if you are playing from overseas you should ensure that you check with your local tax authorities in order to be fully aware of any liabilities you may be subject to within your own jurisdiction.

        https://australia.national-lottery.com/information

        Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any. So many systems, so many theories, so few jackpot winners. 

        Lep

        There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

          Avatar
          Chasing $ Millions.
          White Shores- California
          United States
          Member #136473
          December 12, 2012
          6277 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: August 2, 2018, 10:28 am - IP Logged

          The other question that should have been asked of Matt is " How does it feel to tell others that they have won the lottery, but you have not?"

           * Voice of Reason *   

           

          People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

            gocart1's avatar - lighthouse
            ONEONTA,NEW YORK
            United States
            Member #30515
            January 17, 2006
            447 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: August 2, 2018, 12:13 pm - IP Logged

            IF I GOT THAT PHONE CALL , I WOULDN'T Believe IT...

              sully16's avatar - sharan
              25
              Ringleader
              Michigan
              United States
              Member #81738
              October 28, 2009
              75596 Posts
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              Posted: August 2, 2018, 1:56 pm - IP Logged

              Seems like a good job, wish I could call my husband and tell him he won, lol

              Hi LP family, won't be posting for a couple days, Hurt my right arm.

                Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                100
                Zeta Reticuli Star System
                United States
                Member #30469
                January 17, 2006
                11491 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: August 2, 2018, 7:09 pm - IP Logged

                Matt between calls;

                Running On Coffee: Have you met my pet kangaroo?

                Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any. So many systems, so many theories, so few jackpot winners. 

                Lep

                There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                  golfer1960's avatar - Lottery-003.jpg
                  Eatontown, NJ
                  United States
                  Member #119666
                  November 29, 2011
                  849 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: August 3, 2018, 12:49 am - IP Logged

                  I wish the article stated what kind of lottery games must you play in order to have the LOTTERY COMMISSION CALL YOU to tell that you've won? I can only think of one lottery game in the US that would do that and that is Publishers Clearinghouse. Any suggestions what lottery games call you to tell you that you've won?

                    Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                    100
                    Zeta Reticuli Star System
                    United States
                    Member #30469
                    January 17, 2006
                    11491 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: August 3, 2018, 1:02 am - IP Logged

                    I wish the article stated what kind of lottery games must you play in order to have the LOTTERY COMMISSION CALL YOU to tell that you've won? I can only think of one lottery game in the US that would do that and that is Publishers Clearinghouse. Any suggestions what lottery games call you to tell you that you've won?

                    From the OP;

                    Question: Hey Matt, how does it feel giving away money?

                    Matt Hart: You feel like a cross between the Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny when delivering the prize money. When you think about it, it's quite surreal that we just interrupt someone's life, every morning, to deliver the news that they've won a top prize and they're now a millionaire or multi-millionaire. We have this little insight into their lives — it's a real emotional thing for many people, we hear about their hopes and dreams of what they'd always thought they'd do with a million-dollar win.

                    /////////////////////////////////////////

                    I'll take a really wild guess and say whatever their jackpot games are.

                    Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any. So many systems, so many theories, so few jackpot winners. 

                    Lep

                    There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                      music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                      Fresno, California
                      United States
                      Member #157851
                      August 2, 2014
                      3927 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: August 3, 2018, 12:58 pm - IP Logged

                      "At every lottery in the World," is not true. Americans, in general, do not get calls like this.

                       Great story otherwise. Thanks for posting it.

                       "We are all in this together!"