A lifelong football fan has won £9.3million on the lottery after buying a ticket to celebrate his struggling team’s weekend win.
Paul Long, 55, felt his luck was in when his beloved Leyton Orient secured a home win against Woking on Saturday.
The father-of-three, of Wickford, Essex, said he initially believed he had won £9,000 before his friend pointed out to him that he had scooped the jackpot.
Paul Long (pictured today), 55, felt his luck was in when his beloved Leyton Orient secured a home win against Woking on Saturday
Strike of luck: Mr Long is pictured celebrating his near £10m lottery win in Essex today
The father-of-three said: ‘I try to go to most home games and this was our first win since before Christmas so I was feeling pretty chuffed, not half as chuffed as I’m feeling now.
‘I have to admit it’s been a crazy few days and it’s only been in the last 24 hours that I have dared to believe it’s real.
‘But now that it’s starting to sink in I’m able to do a little shopping and make some exciting plans for the future.
The father-of-three, of Wickford, Essex (pictured today), thought he had only won £9,000, but realised he’d scooped £9.3million instead
‘The very best thing about this win is that it’s big enough for me to share it with those closest to me and make sure everyone is looked after.’
Leyton Orient, one of the oldest football clubs in London, have had a troubled few seasons after getting through numerous managers and nearly folding altogether.
The non-League side had not won a home League game since Boxing Day.
Mr Long, who worked for Ford’s plant in Dagenham, Essex for more than a decade before stopping due to ill health, plans to spend his winnings upgrading his six year-old Fiesta for a brand new Ford EcoSport.
He also wants to treat his family and friends to ‘one hell of an exciting adventure’.
He said: ‘I’m just a normal guy, I don’t want a Lamborghini. I would never buy something like a £100,000 car because that’s just not who I am.
‘My kids will all be secure for life and I can also help out friends, whether that’s a little cash boost, a holiday, to take in a show or just enjoy a posh meal.
‘I keep saying, I want this win to help change people’s faces so that they go from humdrum to beaming grin. This is going to be one hell of an exciting adventure.
‘The future is going to be very rosy, but it’s not just my rosy journey, I fully intend to take everyone on the journey with me.’
The former Ford worker says he wouldn’t buy a £100,000 car because he’s ‘just a normal guy’
He wants to buy a new car and treat his family and friends to ‘one hell of an exciting adventure’
Mr Long, who recently moved to Wickford, Essex, discovered he’d won big after checking his emails on Sunday morning.
He said: ‘I’ve rung my mate and told him, and he said text me the ticket over.
‘He then said ‘Hi mate, I’m not being funny, you’ve won £9 million’.
‘I said ‘Shut up’.’
After ringing the Lotto helpline back to confirm he was the sole jackpot winner, and asking them ‘Is this a scam?’, Mr Long told his close family as his good fortune sank in.
He said: ‘I think I opened a bottle of Coors Light and then thought, you know what, I need a cup of tea.’
The following day, Mr Long, who worked at the Ford plant in Dagenham for more than 14 years, put a deposit on a new Ford EcoSport sports utility vehicle.
After injuring his Achilles’ tendon pulling a suitcase up the stairs, the Orient fan became unemployed.
But after his big win, his job hunt is permanently on hold and he is planning to secure a prosperous future for his daughter, 27, and sons, 24 and 21.
But he said: ‘I’m not going to make them millionaires. I think they should learn the value of things.
‘I want to give them a life where I know they are going to be all right – that’s what I take satisfaction from.
‘I keep saying, I want this win to help change people’s faces so that they go from humdrum to beaming grin. This is going to be one hell of an exciting adventure.’
He said he has no plans to invest in the football club he has supported since he was 11, although he may fork out for a season ticket in the seat where he sat for Saturday’s win.
Hit the jackpot: Paul Long is pictured with his National Lottery cheque for £9,339,858
He said: ‘What I’ve won, (Orient major investor) Kent Teague probably thinks is a tenner. They are doing a fantastic job.
‘I cannot afford to lose money – as quick as I’ve got it, it will go.’
Orient were taken over last summer by a consortium led by another boyhood fan, Nigel Travis, the chief executive of Dunkin’ Donuts, who rescued a club that had been at risk of going bust under previous ownership.
Mr Long’s winnings could cover the £782,000-a-week salary of the world’s most expensive footballer, Neymar, for just 11 weeks – totalling £8.6 million.
This would leave him with enough change to relay the Matchroom Stadium pitch, complained about by team manager Justin Edinburgh, if he paid around the £500,000 League One club Rochdale recently forked out ahead of an FA Cup tie with Tottenham.
Mr Long (pictured) said he has no plans to invest in the football club he has supported since he was 11, although he may fork out for a season ticket in the seat where he sat for Saturday’s win
Leyton Orient’s chief executive Danny Macklin has already been to meet Mr Long and congratulate him and his family.
Although he is not a season ticket holder, he said the father-of-three is a ‘dedicated regular’.
He told MailOnline: ‘We’re absolutely delighted for Paul. I recognised his face as soon as I saw him as did many members of our team.
‘He’s such a genuine man, we’re really pleased for him.’
The football boss revealed the club has big plans for Mr Long’s seat at their east London stadium.
He added: ‘We’ve invited him to come down and meet our owners and we’ve got something very special lined up for his usual seat.
‘It’s obviously a very lucky one so we’re going to mark it especially and run competitions for people to sit there and see if that good luck rubs off on them.’
Orient has also invited him to watch them play Maidenhead United on Easter Monday.
Orient (ground pictured) has also invited him to watch them play Maidenhead United on Easter Monday