A married pair from western England was named Britain’s largest lottery winners on Thursday after winning the EuroMillions jackpot of approximately £185 million ($230 million, 218 million euros).
Joe and Jess Thwaite, from Gloucester, described the record-breaking victory as “amazing for us” after they claimed the record-breaking sum of £184,262,899 earlier this month with a ticket of randomly selected numbers.
“It was amazing but also surreal,” said Joe, 49, who works at a communications company, at a press conference with his wife as they recounted the momentous moment they discovered online their May 10 win.
“I looked at the amount. I put the phone down and I picked the phone up again and I looked at the amount again!”
The early riser managed to keep his excitement in check long enough to let his wife sleep until her alarm went off — and then broke the news to her.
“He said, ‘I’ve got a secret to tell you,'” Jess, 44, remembered. “Don’t be foolish!” she exclaimed, adding that they initially mistook it for a joke and were “clearly wrong.”
The pair, like many other Britons, has been trying to make ends meet due to the country’s rising cost of living, and they intend to share their newfound wealth with friends and family.
“This is a great thing that’s happened to us, which means it’s an amazing thing that’s happened to our family, and we want to share it with them,” Jess, who owns a hair salon with her mother and sister, said.
“Even though it’s wonderful and exciting, it’s also a massive relief for everybody that’s been struggling with all their bills.
“We’re like every normal family… so it’s just a huge relief.”
In the midst of Britain’s spiraling energy bills, Joe said the spectacular win meant they could enjoy basic pleasures like hot water without worrying about the costs.
“I did turn on the immersion heater the other day and heat up the hot water and just assumed that was OK,” he added.
Beyond that, the immediate Thwaite family — which comprises two primary school-aged children and a host of pets including horses, ponies, dogs, and even geckos — are planning a rare family holiday and likely a new car purchase.
“We never go on holiday,” said Jess. “So our kids would just die to go to the sun and do that kind of thing,” she added, noting one favoured Hawaii while the other wanted to go to a Texas horse ranch.
The prize won by Thwaite sets a new record in the United Kingdom and is the second largest in EuroMillions history, which is played in nine European countries.
Last October, on the Pacific island of Tahiti, which is part of French Polynesia, an unidentified woman — who had never played the game before — won an unprecedented 220-million-euro jackpot.