Big Prize, Big Problems For Record British Lottery Winner
LONDON (AP) _ The curse of instant wealth has struck again.
One of two winners of a record $36 million jackpot in Britain’s National Lottery also garnered a potential lawsuit from his wife and his adoptive mother’s hopes that he should drink himself to death.
Mark Gardiner, 33, who runs a glass-fitting business from a garage, was identified by newspapers after winning the lottery Saturday. He and his business partner, Paul Maddison, shared a one-pound ($1.6) ticket and hit the six-number jackpot.
They fielded questions at a press conference Monday in hopes of keeping journalists from prying into their private lives.
But the deluge of publicity for the largest gambling prize ever awarded in Britain appeared the least of his problems for three-times married Gardiner, who lives in Hastings, 55 miles south of London.
``I’m after half his cash,″ Gardiner’s estranged wife, Kim Cresswell, 33, was quoted as telling Britain’s Sun newspaper.
Mrs. Cresswell _ her husband recently changed his name to Gardiner _ noted their divorce isn’t final. She said she would immediately see her lawyer.
And Irene Cresswell, 68, who adopted Gardiner as a toddler and brought him up, told newspapers: ``He has made our life a misery. I hope he drinks himself to death.″
Gardiner would not comment on their remarks, except to say ``It’s very sad some of the things that have been written about me.″
His girlfriend, Brenda McGill, defended him. ``He is a lovely guy. I should know because I live with him.″
Gardiner and Maddison, who will share the jackpot, said their plans were modest.
``Last night we were all talking about what you could spend it on and didn’t get up to a million,″ Gardiner said.
``We will be going back to work some time this week,″ Maddison said. ``We’ll probably buy a new van for the business.″
The jackpot topped the $27.9 million won in December by an Asian immigrant factory worker in north England. Since then, he’s quarreled with his brothers over the money, got into trouble with Muslim leaders for gambling, tried to return to his native India but couldn’t settle, and now lives near London.