A single father and chef who won £1m on a digital scratchcard still put in a Christmas shift at the pub where he works 60 hours a week, days after his jackpot.
Didzis Pirags described the win as a “Christmas miracle” and said it would change his life completely, but maintained: “I still need to finish my shifts.”
During his lunch break at the Hungry Horse pub in Preston on Saturday, the Latvian-born kitchen manager decided to Spend the remaining £6.50 in his National Lottery account.
Waging the money on an instant win game while in his flat above the pub, Mr Pirags was stunned to discover the “first thing [he] scratched off said £1m”.
“I literally ran downstairs and said to my boss ‘look, look it’s £1m isn’t it, isn’t it?’
She said ‘yeah, it is £1m’ and I rang the number and they confirmed it,” he told a press conference on Friday.
The 36-year-old said the windfall will allow him to give his five-year-old son “a better future, better education, a better house”.
Mr Pirags works 12-hour shifts including at weekends, meaning he has only been able to spend time with for a few evenings each week and has had to pay for a nanny.
He said the time it would allow him to spend with his child was “invaluable”.
“I’ve not spent a weekend with him in years. This is the best Christmas present we could have received, it’s massive. It’s going to mean a better life for me and my son … everything in our lives can be better now.
“The real gift is the life we’ve been afforded thanks to this win. He’s the most important person in my life, it’s all about him.
“Raising him on my own, it’s been difficult at times in the last five years but now things can change for the better.
“It’s not my money really, it’s all his. This is truly a Christmas miracle, I can’t believe it.”
Mr Pirags, who moved to the UK nine years ago, has bought a Barratt homes four-bedroom house for £280,000 with his winnings and said he wants to let the win “soak in” before he decides what else to spend the money on.
He said he did not spoil the youngster over Christmas but bought him from some headphones as an extra present.
“Money shouldn’t change your lifestyle, we’re going to have a better life but it’ll be something we feel in the long-term, not just by buying flashy things,” he explained. “This is why I’m going to keep working, and he will too when he’s older.”
He worked his shift from 10am until 4pm on Christmas Day as well as working Boxing Day, and is planning to work this weekend.
He is also planning to buy a new car with his winnings and gift his current car to a friend.
Mr Pirags added: “All I want is to be able to provide the best possible life for my son and this win will enable me to do exactly this.”