- Randy Rush, from Alberta, Canada, won $37 million in the lottery in 2015.
- He immediately quit his job and started investing his money in different assets.
- But his win damaged close relationships, including with his best friend, who scammed him.
This is an as-told-to essay based on a conversation with Randy Rush, a Canadian lottery winner who won $37 million in 2015. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I always had a gut feeling that I would come into a large sum of money one day.
But when I found out I had won $37 million ($50 million Canadian) in the lottery in Alberta, Canada, on a cold February morning in 2015, it still felt like I was taking off in a spaceship.
I had popped to the corner store to buy some cat food and just grabbed my lottery tickets on the way out. It was the very last ticket in the stack.
When you win the lottery in Canada, you get sent the full amount straight to your bank account. You don't get any advice on what to do with it.
The moment I saw the money come in, I quit my job as a salesman for a large international company. I diversified and invested in charity projects, real estate, and hedge funds. I learned very early on in life to get the best financial people around me so that's what I did.
I also left Alberta straight away.
I lived in a small town and had some people knocking on the door, demanding money from me, including my neighbor. So I didn't want to be around to deal with that.
I hardly slept for two years because of the adrenaline — and all the phone calls.
Having this kind of money shows what people are really made of. I lost a 43-year friendship over it. My mother demanded half of my winnings and wouldn't talk to me ever again because I didn't give it to her. It was a little traumatic at the time, but now I'm over it.
But worst of all was my experience with my best friend, whom I had known since school.
His son pitched an investment opportunity, a company that he said would be the next Facebook. It felt like the perfect chance at the time: I wanted to help a friend and diversify my assets.
But it turned out the company, in which I had invested $3.4 million ($4.6 million Canadian), was surrounded by lies, and the money I put in was gone — taken by my best friend and his wife, who had bought luxury cars and an ocean-side property in California.
The experience was gutting, especially because it involved someone I had cared about deeply.
After a month-long battle played out in courts in Alberta and Arizona, everything was resolved in my favor and I ended up getting my money back.
But still, it took me many years — and writing a book— to get over it. It's history now and I've learned my lesson. I call it the Judas experience.
Winning the lottery has changed my life for the better, but I think that is because it happened at the right stage of my life.
However, it did really show me the true colors of the people around me. If there are any cracks in any relationship, money will burst that open.
I still buy lottery tickets today. They say the chances of winning a second time are extraordinarily high.