A woman who won £115 million in the 2019 EuroMillions, and who has already given away more than half of her winnings, has revealed the first thing she did after finding out.
Speaking to Sky News on Thursday 28 April, she recalled the moment she found out she had purchased a winning lottery ticket.
Connolly said her husband Patrick had broken the news while she was sitting on the sofa watching TV.
“My husband said, ‘I think I’ve got some good news for you’. He turned his laptop round and showed me a picture of a lottery ticket,” she said.
"I was sitting on a sofa watching the telly and knitting"
EuroMillions winner Frances Connolly describes the moment she and her partner found out they'd won £115m - and explains why they've already given away half their fortune.https://t.co/Gk97JUvZT5
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“And I said, ‘Oh, well if you’re saying it’s good news it must be more than £2.50’, and he said ‘yeah, a bit’,” she said.
Upon learning that she had in fact won the jackpot, Connolly said: “I think for the first time in my life I was dumbfounded, I was shocked, and I had nothing to say.”
“We stared at each other for about five minutes, stood up, gave each other a hug and I said I’ll go and put the kettle on, shall I?”
The former social worker and teacher, who previously volunteered with St John Ambulance, said it is in her nature to help others.
“Patrick always said to me that if we won the lottery, he would never let me open an email or answer a phone, because I’d just give it all away,” she explained.
Shortly after winning the money, Connolly compiled a list of people she wanted to help first. She was able to help her sister out of financial difficulty and gave her nephew the money to buy her mother’s house.
“We all grew up [in the house] and he lives in that now, which is lovely,” she said.
She has also set up two foundations, the Kathleen Graham trust in honour of her late mother in Northern Ireland, and the PFC Trust in Hartlepool which provides support for local young carers, refugees and soup kitchens.
While most people who dream of winning the lottery imagine endless days of relaxation and leisure, Connolly said the couple have “never worked so hard”.
“Every time I complain that I’m tired or I’m fed up, she says ‘talk to the hand, you could be lying on a beach somewhere doing nothing’, so she makes a joke of it.”
The couple have made sure to spend some of their winnings on themselves. This includes buying a six-bedroom house with seven acres of land in County Durham.
“We’ve spent quite a lot on ourselves aswell,” Connolly said. “We’ve enjoyed our money, we’ve had a great time.”