A down-to-earth lottery millionaire is still confused with the gardener when visitors come to his 500-acre estate.
Neil Trotter landed a whopping £108million back in March 2014, just £2m shy of the amount he had already predicted winning. Before even buying a ticket he had been having a chat with a few people in his dad’s office about what would be the perfect size for a EuroMillions win.
He recalled: “They all had various amounts…one girl was a million. One girl said she’d be happy with £5million. Some might say £10million would be enough for them. And I said 110 million. And everyone looked at me and said ‘Why do you want that amount?’ And I said, ‘Well, I've worked out that that's what I need to do, everything I want to do…’”
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What Neil most wanted to do, it turned out, was buy a vast sprawling estate that he has turned into a wildlife sanctuary. But the former car mechanic’s first move was to buy himself a couple of nice new cars.
“I asked the guy for two Range Rovers and he just looked me up and down and said ‘You can't afford it’,” he recalled. Because Neil doesn’t dress like a multi-millionaire, people are still making that mistake today.
“People think I’m the gardener,” he told podcaster Timothy Schultz,”because I always walk around in tatty stuff". A few old acquaintances didn’t need Neil to change his image though, and got in touch as soon as they heard about his newfound wealth.
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“A lot of people came out the woodwork,” he said. “I was getting phone calls from people saying ‘when are you going to drop my money around?’ I’d reply ‘what money?’ And they would say ‘We’re friends, you’ve got to give me some money’.
“I’d tell them ‘Remember when you didn’t help me I really needed it?’ They’d say ‘Yeah…’ and I’d say ‘Well you’re not getting any money then, are you?’”
Neil may have a no-nonsense, down-to earth attitude, but it only stretches so far. He continued: “I had a good business. I had a lot of friends that were customers – I’ve painted cars for thousands of people. I just pulled the plug on it, I’m not going back.
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“I do miss painting cars and the banter, and the customers. I’ve still got customers that phone me now.
"I've had customers that phoned me years later, they didn’t even know I’d won the lottery, and they ask me ‘can you repair my car?’ And I have to explain I don’t really do that any more…”
But with his estate, his investments, and the young racing car driver he sponsors, Neil doesn’t have a lot of spare time, explaining: “Everyone thinks I sit around and do nothing all day, but I’m flat-out.”
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