Imagine going from being completely homeless to £1.7m richer…. What would you do? Spend it on cars? Party? Not László Andraschek, who decided to donate a portion of his wins to a hostel for the homeless and a foundation for addicts and abused women. As a recovering alcoholic who has had firsthand experience of what it is like to be on the streets, these acts are a huge testament to Andraschek’s empathy with others who may have experienced the same ordeals. “I had drunk myself out of the family by the age of 31. I was the last child at home and spent all my wages on drink. I worked on-and-off as an agricultural repairman. I lived the typical life of an alcoholic and I thought it was all right,” he reflects. Life had been so destitute that he even made an attempt on his life and failed, incidentally injuring his foot in the process. “Even losing a foot didn’t make me mend my ways because I would blame everyone around me, anyone but myself,” and in 1991, Andraschek found himself homeless.
On the way to a workshop for recovering alcoholics, by chance, he bought the winning lottery ticket. “I had only picked six numbers and the female shop assistant reminded me that I needed to pick a seventh… I told her to make it 24 – it doesn’t matter, anyway.” Little did he know that that ticket would change his life forever. After discovering about his massive win, his first resolve was to repay his debts, before cycling to a car dealer.
“When the car salesman asked me how much I would be willing to spend, I held up three fingers. As I had arrived on a bike he assumed this meant 300,000 forints, but actually I meant 3 million,” said he. Even though he can’t drive, he intended the cars for his children whom he also bought flats for and assisted in paying their debts too.
The 57-year old resident of Gyor, north-west Hungary, also entertained the idea of travelling to Italy, having not previously held a passport. Cautious not to fall into the temptation of spending money foolishly, Andraschek and his wife, Anikó said that they will invest their money. “I have become rich but I have not become a different person. I could buy a large-screen TV because I can afford it, but I won’t buy three because I can afford it,” he said.
“When László came home and was dancing around the room, my first thought was maybe he had started drinking again,” his wife recalls. “When I watched him call the lottery company and heard them saying congratulations, I realised that he hadn’t lost his marbles after all.” It took a while for the news to sink in: “I was thinking, ‘I know what 600 means and I know what one million means. But I don’t know what 600 million means,'” said Anikó.
“Our foundation will be directed at helping people who have lost their human dignity, it is our duty to take those people who have shared our difficult experiences by the hand, which is why we are planning to call the foundation Állj Mellém! (Stand by Me!) because it is easier to survive and then move on with someone beside you. Money will not be the focus, but anyone who is willing to help in any way is welcome. With it we can shake people out of their indifference so that they will not just step over the supine,” they concluded.