One of the most interesting stories to come out of British TV over the years is the fraud that was almost successfully carried out on gameshow Who Wants to Be a Millionaire back in September of 2001. Major Charles Ingram appeared on one show, used two lifelines and flubbed his way through some questions. He was sent home, since taping would resume the following day, on which he inexplicably won the £1 million.
Well, not so inexplicably. Ingram, his wife Diana, and fellow contestant Tecwen Whittock had concocted a scheme to let Ingram know which answers were correct by coughing when they were read out. The sound mixer, another contestant, and many floor staff caught on the indecisiveness of the Major and the pattern of Whittock’s coughing and pointed this out. The producers looked into this and suspended the money from entering his account.
The event went down in TV history and is the subject of a 2019 TV drama starring Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant, according to the Radio Times. Ingram became notorious because of the circumstances of his money being taken back, but what have other overnight millionaires spent their money on?
The first-ever Who Wants to Be a Millionaire UK winner, Judith Keppel, went on to become a regular quiz panellist on Eggheads – and according to the ft.com, she spent some of her winnings on a house in France in tribute to the £1 million question about Eleanor of Aquitaine that won her the prize. At the time, she was training to be a garden designer, and admitted to being ‘skint’ before the windfall gameshow. £1.8 million lottery winners the Griffiths family spent their money on a dream home, properties, a Porsche, and even used £25,000 of it so Mr Griffiths could make a record with his university bandmates. Meanwhile, jackpot winner Pete Kyle spent his winnings on trips to Disneyland, while Dale Philip spent some of the money he made playing poker online on a trip around the world, seeing 50 countries.
What is the best way to spend such sizeable winnings, though? Well, according to the infographic above and an article accompanying it, Britons Denise and Paul Hardware won £5 million and decided to see if they could spend it effectively.
They invested £2million in property, including their dream home and several others to rent out, in order to keep the cash flowing. They bought a holiday home worth £31,000, spent a further £3,000 on holidays, and finally gave £40,000 to their son to complete university, leaving him student debt-free. The rental properties mean that the Hardwares shouldn’t want for anything and will be able to maintain their newfound millionaire lifestyle. After all, some people who manage to win millions end up losing it very quickly.
Winning a million is something everyone dreams of, but it can actually be fairly difficult to decide where to allocate the money. Some are philanthropical, others tidy their own lives up and pay off debt and mortgages, while some take a YOLO approach to spending it while they can.
But spare a thought for poor Katrina Bookman, who thought she had won $49.2 million only to be told the machine had malfunctioned and the maximum payout should have been $6,500. For her inconvenience, she was also given a steak dinner, although we doubt that was consolation enough.