A lottery winner who spent her share of a £1.8 million jackpot says she still had a "great time" despite not having any of it left.
Lara Griffiths got through all the cash despite carrying on working full-time, buying secondhand cars and flying economy.
She said the initial feeling of finding out ex-husband Roger Griffiths had scooped won the money in 2005 was indescribable.
But Lara, from Boston Spa, West Yorkshire, added that the whole experience was "shocking" – and, 18 years later, says she is "sick of being painted as tragic".
Lara, now 53, says she has since been accused of being a "silly woman" who squandered all the cash away but the opposite is true.
She said: “It’s become an overriding narrative that the lotto ruined my life.
“People kept saying I was stupid, pumped full of plastic surgery and needed my kids taken away.
“But the fact is, I spent it wisely – and I had a great time.”
Lara and Roger were happily married when he won the money but they split eight years later.
The couple bought a £450,000 house, a £150,000 salon where Lara worked, 30 secondhand cars and at least 15 designer handbags.
Lara says she found the experience “shocking” and couldn’t differentiate between “good shock and bad shock”.
She added: “Everyone always asks you what it’s like to win the lottery.
"But it’s not a tangible feeling – imagine being told you suddenly have £2m in the bank.
“We went on holiday to Dubai and it was lovely, in the first instance.
“We didn’t fritter money away, though.
Lara left her £40,000-a-year job in teaching the following year – despite not wanting to – fearing the teachers and students would look at her differently.
She worked full-time at the salon she and Roger bought together but claims she didn't pay herself a salary.
Despite this, she felt “bored” and her new job left her feeling “unstimulated” as her passion was teaching.
By 2013, the money had run out and Roger and Lara split.
Lara and the couple's two daughters now live in a four-bedroom house with Lara’s mum Norma, 86.
She says she doesn’t want her daughters to inherit a “legacy” involving her spending £1.8m in lottery winnings.
She added: “I fully hold my hands up and accept my mistakes. I’ve spent the last 10 years making sure my children have a nice life regardless of that.
“But the lottery did not ruin my life."
Does winning the lottery make you happy?
Dr Nick Powdthavee, an economist who has researched the impacts of winning the lottery, argues that evidence on whether it makes you happier is mixed.
A study of a British sample of more than 16,000 lottery winners, where the average amount was a few thousand pounds, revealed the mental health of the winners was positively impacted by their new-found wealth, with effects appearing within two years.
A study of the Swedish Lottery, which had a sample size of more than 2,500 winners with an average win amount of $106,000 (£77,000), found the overall life satisfaction of big winners was significantly higher than those who won a smaller amount or nothing at all.
But a study of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, which had a median lottery win of $22,500 (£16,400), found little evidence to suggest that winning the lottery had a statistically significant impact on people's happiness.
Read more: Does winning the Lottery make you happy? (Warwick Business School)