Have you ever thought about what you would buy if you won the lottery? Perhaps a house or car, or maybe a luxurious vacation? For one lucky winner of £2.4 million ($2.9 million) in 2010, this cash prize was used for something totally different. A man named Neil Jones decided to invest in pursuing pool, a long-lost hobby. Thirteen years later, Jones is now representing England as captain of the international team in Malta.
Soon after receiving his life-changing lottery winnings, the former tiler went shopping for his first pool table. Though he used to play snooker when he was younger, it had been many years since he played the game. “I picked a cue up, had a knock, and then I came back home and measured up our dining room so I could buy a decent pool table,” he recalls. Thanks to the funds, he and his partner were more financially secure, and he was able to pursue pool full-time, which meant making up for lost time with ample training.
“Winning the lottery allowed me to put those hours in,” he added. “If I didn't win, I wouldn't have been able to buy the table, I wouldn't have had the time—I'd still be on my hands and knees tiling.” Owning his own pool table became particularly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic as Jones was able to continue practicing at home. Eventually, all of his hard work paid off, and Jones quickly shot up in the rankings. This led him to becoming the captain of his country's international team earlier this year.
“You can't just buy a place in the England team, you've got to put the hours in,” he said. Jones will play alongside his teammates in Malta for the European Championships this November. “I didn't have that much money left in the world when I won, and now I'm captaining my country,” he continued. “I can't wait to fly out to Malta, put on that England shirt and lead the team out.”