When the National Lottery launched in the UK, it was headline news and the weekly ritual of drawing those lucky numbers became a central part of Saturday night TV viewing. But there was an additional phenomenon that launched at the same time. Scratchcards might not attract the same fanfare and media attention, but they have steadily grown in both popularity and number.
Today, there are literally hundreds of different types of scratchcards available. You don’t even have to buy one physically, as many of the Lotto and casino sites offer online scratch cards that work in exactly the same way as paper ones.
Whatever sort you choose, though, most people associate a scratchcard win with enough money to perhaps buy a round of drinks in the local pub. But as last year’s record-breaking £20 million scratchcard launch demonstrates, there is the potential to win life-changing sums. Nobody has scooped that particular one just yet, but here, we will meet some of the people who won big.
The Tragic But Colourful Story Of Melissa Ede
Taxi driver Melissa Ede was all over the tabloid press when she won a record-breaking £4 million on a £10 Blue National Lottery card that she bought on a whim while refuelling her car on 30 December 2017.
She said: “I had filled up with fuel and received £12 change. The £10 scratchcard just caught my eye so with the money that I had left in my hand I bought one.”
It was not the first time Melissa had been in the public eye. Seven years earlier she had completed gender reassignment surgery, and she had shared every step of her journey with 250,000 followers on her YouTube channel. She was also a regular on TV shows like Judge Rinder and Jeremy Kyle prior to her big win.
Tragically, Melissa was only able to enjoy her wealth for a few short months. She died suddenly of a heart attack in May 2018 aged just 58.
Gracie Walker Staying Grounded
Our next winner could not be more different to larger-than-life Melissa, although her win can also be described as colourful. The Scottish housewife bought a pink scratchcard on the basis that she liked the colour.
Gracie and her husband William, a removals man, said they would spend some of their million pound winnings on “a nice holiday.” However, she said they would not be moving from their modest Lanarkshire council house, saying “I’ve lived here for 30 years and I love it.”
In The US, Everything Is Bigger
Lotto followers will know that the prizes available in the US Mega Millions and Powerball are immense, larger even than the Euro Millions jackpots. It might come as a surprise, therefore, to hear that American scratchcards generally contain relatively modest jackpots, and even the largest are significantly lower than the £5 million that Melissa Ede won.
However, there is big and then there is big. In the strictest sense of the word, it is still a US scratchcard that has resulted in the biggest win according to Guinness World Records. The card measured more than 33 feet tall and 18 feet wide and a special scissor lift had to be driven in to lift the lucky winner, Norman Blanchette, up to scratch off his numbers.
Norman did not become a millionaire, but he won a VIP race weekend at the Sylvania Speedway. And he can always tell his friends that when it comes to big wins, he’s in the record books.