‘Surreal’: Gloucester couple celebrate record-breaking £184m lottery win

A little over a week ago, Joe and Jess Thwaite were facing months, maybe years, of renovating what they thought was their dream home – a house in the Gloucestershire countryside with a bucket in the hall to catch the rain falling through the leaky roof.

But on what Jess said was a “normal husband-and-wife grumpy morning” on Wednesday 11 May, the couple’s lives – and their dreams for the future – were changed indefinitely.

Joe, 49, woke up at 5.15am and, after sorting out the couple’s dogs, checked his phone to discover he had won £184,262,899.10 on EuroMillions – the UK’s biggest ever lottery haul.

“I looked at the amount and I put the phone down,” he told a press conference near Cheltenham, hosted by the broadcaster Dermot O’Leary. “And I picked the phone up again, and I looked at the amount again.

“I first thought it was in thousands,” he said, but then he “started counting the digits”, adding: “Amazing, but also surreal.”

Showing great reserve, Joe, a communications engineer, waited for the morning alarm to wake his wife of 11 years.

Jess, 44, who runs the business side of a family hairdressing salon, said he then told her they had won the jackpot off the back of the lucky dip ticket he had bought at 4pm the day before.

Her reaction? “Don’t be stupid.”

But the reality started to sink in. This was no joke, no mistake. Jess, unsure about what to do or who to tell, arranged to meet her mother in a car park.

Recalling their conversation, she told the press conference: “I said, ‘I’ve got something to tell you, a secret to tell you but you have to promise not to tell anybody.

“She was like, ‘OK’, and then she was like: ‘Are you pregnant?’”

Thwaite said she told her mother: “It’s better than being pregnant.”

The couple said they had not had enough time to plan their next steps, though expected to step back from work and share much of their newfound wealth – which gives them a net worth greater than Adele’s – with their family and friends.

The couple, who have been married for 11 years, have two children of primary school age, while Joe has two children at university from a previous marriage.

The couple both commented on the cost of living crisis, with 9% inflation pushing prices to unmanageable levels, saying they too had been feeling the pressure.

They said their financial situation was “not horrendous” but the crisis had “affected our lives”.

They said they had a lot of animals such as ponies, geckos, chickens and dogs, with Jess saying: “We have too many things, we’re too busy.

“We just want to create that kind of lifestyle for our children. We’re right at the bottom because we’ve pushed everything to get this house, and to have our ponies at home and that’s been our dream.”

On their financial situation, they said they had savings they planned to use to do some building at their house when prices went down.

Jess added: “I’m not saying that it’s horrendous. We love our life, this is what we’ve chosen.”

Joe said they bought the house when the economy was better and they had been struggling, adding: “This is huge for us.”

What will happen to the house they once thought was their dream, they are undecided, although they impulsively bought some bedroom furniture after the win.

For now, holidays are on the agenda, with Hawaii and a ranch in Texas the hot favourites.

The previous lottery record was held by an anonymous ticketholder who banked £170m in October 2019.

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