"Do what you can to make somebody else's day a little bit brighter."
By Kate Northrop
A year after winning almost $1 million (US$731,905) in the Australian TattsLotto, one particular Aussie went on a selfless crusade to give it all away.
Thanks to a superstition, Peter Charleton, 47, of Yarra Ranges bought a TattsLotto lottery ticket in August 2020 that turned out to be the winner of a prize worth $896,511.13 (US$656,160.98). A year later, he's already given away most of the prize.
Back in 2020, the father had accidentally left his late uncle's favorite pocketknife on top of his car. He arrived home an hour later to discover that the knife had survived the entire trip, still sitting on the roof of the vehicle. In light of the miraculous luck, he took to social media to announce that he would be buying a few Lotto tickets.
Charleton bought three Quick Pick lottery tickets for a TattsLotto drawing. A few days later, he checked his numbers on the Lottery's mobile app. The first and second ticket he bought — no prize, but upon checking the third ticket, he was met with something he had never seen before.
"I scanned the third one, and it came up with something that I wasn't familiar with because it said 'you are a big winner' or a 'major winner' or something," he said in an interview with My Big Story.
Despite the confirmation that he had won nearly $1 million, he deleted the app, redownloaded it, and checked his numbers again. Sure enough, he was about to have hundreds of thousands of dollars come his way soon.
"It was a really good feeling," Charleton recalled.
During the tense 17 days he waited for the money to land in his bank account, he only revealed the win to his immediate family. However, he admitted that he had no desire to spend the money on himself and instead decided to take care of his family, friends, and the people in his community.
"I don't feel comfortable keeping all this money to myself, and so I didn't," he revealed. He said that he doesn't understand how multi-billionaires can continue to build on their wealth.
His first order of business was to take care of the bare necessities for himself, such as paying off his mortgage and buying a second-hand car. Then, he went on to help out family members and friends in need. After everyone close to him was taken care of, Charleton started showing up to local businesses, such as cafes, restaurants, and grocery stores, to pay for customers' food, sometimes putting down anywhere between $500 and $1,000 while saying "do with it as you please."
"I felt more comfortable knowing that I'd given it all away and done a few things for myself," the generous winner remarked. "I was messaging people on Facebook asking, 'Can I have your bank details? I want to send you some money...' I didn't tell the wider community that I'd won Lotto."
Charleton quipped that, since many people are growing accustomed to scammers approaching potential victims on social media asking for personal information, at times it was actually difficult to give the money away to random strangers who were immediately skeptical of his intentions.
A magazine featured Charleton in an article that was set to release about a month after his win, but he made it his goal to give all the winnings away before people realized he had won the lottery.
"My mission was to get rid of it all before people realized I'd won it," he explained.
All of this was made possible thanks to Charleton's superstitious reason for buying the winning lottery ticket in the first place.
Charleton had a close relationship with his late uncle, Charlie, for whom he cared for full-time when he was sick with chronic lung disease. The two had always played the lottery together, and his uncle was positive that they would win it one day.
Charlie passed away just two weeks before Charleton bought the winning ticket, prompted by the miracle he had witnessed with his uncle's pocketknife.
"Maybe, just maybe, Uncle Charlie pulled some strings on his way out," Charleton said thoughtfully.
Even prior to winning the huge prize, the winner was constantly looking for the next moment to make someone else's day brighter. He ran a small business that provided inflatable jumping castles for free at children's parties, purely motivated by seeing families happy. He also did gardening work for a woman struggling with depression.
"There's such a pleasure in being kind and being able to help people, and if you're in a position where you've got the money to do it, I think you're mad if you don't," Charleton remarked. "Do what you can to make somebody else's day a little bit brighter."