A lucky man from Milton Keynes is celebrating after he won the £500,000 top prize on an online Instant Win Game from The National Lottery, and all while his 16-week-old puppy spent a penny.

Gareth Bradley (41), a supermarket store manager, was running a series of job interviews from home when, in a break between calls, he logged on to his online National Lottery account and started to play the online Instant Win Game, Mega Cashword. He said,

“I’d actually gone onto the National Lottery app to play Lotto but decided as there was a little more in the account than I realised, I’d treat myself and play an online Instant Win Game too. I’d pressed the final letter to be revealed in the game when Ruby, our springer spaniel puppy, made it very clear she needed to spend a penny. In a situation like that you don’t mess about, so I quickly put the phone down and immediately took her outside.

“Ruby’s penny spent, we came back into the house and as I picked up my phone saw it was flashing £500,000. I just couldn’t work out what had happened, so I logged into my National Lottery account where I saw a balance of £500,000. Turns out, the last letter I pressed was the top prize-winning M!”

Not knowing whether to scream or cry with joy, Gareth instead rang his partner of eight years, Connor Dennis (28), to share the news. Connor said,

“Gareth sounded really shaky as he fought back the tears, saying to me ‘you won’t believe what’s happened’. Given the times we are living through I assumed the worst and that something dreadful had happened. I ran out of the open plan office thinking I needed to find somewhere private to commiserate with him, only to discover I needed somewhere private to let out some whoops of delight, but only after he’d sent me a video of the winning message to prove he wasn’t winding me up!”

Gareth comes from a big and loving family but clearly has a reputation for the odd wind up because his three sisters and brother all asked for video evidence of his win when he rang to share the news. He said,

“All my siblings thought it was a joke but now they know it’s real, they are over the moon for us, news of this win has given so many people a boost. We are a really close-knit family who love a laugh and a joke, but we’ve had our tough times too. We lost my mum and dad five years ago, mum in the May and dad in June, so of course we are sad they are not here to be part of this moment.”

For Gareth and Connor, who have been working throughout the pandemic, their £500,000 National Lottery win is the culmination of a busy few months. In September, Gareth, who has twice been a proud ‘donor dad’ for very close friends, celebrated the birth of his second son, this joyful event was closely followed by a new job for Gareth, the purchase of their first home together and finally welcoming Ruby into their lives. Gareth said,

“It’s been a crazy time all round, but I think winning £500,000 while your puppy spends a penny has to be the craziest of them all!”

The pair have no plans to give up work, instead they will set aside a lump sum to pay off the mortgage. Connor said,

“We can’t get our heads around how lucky we have been, we’ve only had to pay the mortgage for three months and now have the funds to never have to pay it again.

“We know we’ve been lucky and while we do have a few frivolous plans – a Rolex for me and a Range Rover to replace Gareth’s Kia – we are not going to waste this luck. We have lots of plans to really make the money work hard so that it’s there for our families in the longer term.”

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