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"You realised you could do anything - go on any holiday you wanted."

There has been over 800 jackpot wins of one millionaire or more since the National Lottery started in 1988.

A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT winning the lotto aired on RTÉ One last night, detailing the lives of Irish people and the life-changing affects the wins had on them.

The two-part documentary series called We Won the Lotto explores how the wins impacted on the winners’ lives over the past 30 years, with each episode featuring four different stories.

After winning £1.1 million in 1994 Billy Comer and his wife Carmel from Co Galway received letters from all across the country asking for donations.

“We had got all six numbers, I couldn’t believe it,” Billy says in the documentary. ”I don’t know how these things spread so quick – it spread like wildfire.

“We had no sooner told Betty at the post office – the next thing the phone is hopping off the wall, people were calling to the door.”

The couple ended up buying their local pub.

“You realised you could do anything – go on any holiday you wanted.”

Vincent Keaney, originally from Cobh in Co Cork, won one million sterling in 1996. He had just recently signed onto the dole after losing his job as a steelworker.

With the winnings he bought the dole office and financed a Titanic-themed restaurant and bar.

“It was bonkers – absolutely bonkers,” he says of the win. “Better than the best sex you’ve ever had in your life.”

Unfortunately, with little experience in the restaurant trade, the business would go under after a few years.

“Of course there’s a loss,” he says. “But I understand loss,” he adds, mentioning the death of his daughter.

In regards to the business he says “it isn’t something I’m prepared to dwell on.”

The National Lottery first launched in 1988 and has given over 800 jackpot wins of one million or more.

Only 5% of Irish winners agree to go public – in many states in America its 100% otherwise they don’t get the money.

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70% of Irish lotto winners are male and aged 45 or over, with one in four winners describing their profession as driver.

Anne Canavan from Moville Co Donegal won £1 million three years ago after buying a ticket on a whim while shopping in Derry.

The inventor and self-proclaimed minimalist millionaire said she’s being careful with her money.

“I live simply so if somebody needs something I can help out.”

Instead of buying a new house she’s refurbished her own home which has been in the family for generations.

“Money doesn’t buy happiness but it does buy freedom,” she says.

A freedom that can go easily as Billy Comer says, “a million pounds isn’t an awful lot if you do the wrong things with it.”

 You can watch part 1 of We Won the Lotto on RTE player here.

Read: ‘Winner of €4.4 million Lotto jackpot makes contact with National Lottery’

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