MOST of us have pipe dreams about winning Lotto.

What we’d do, where we’d go, who we’d help and 100 other fantasies.

But spare a thought for American battler Don Savastano.

He had been feeling poorly for a while, but he was so strapped for cash that he couldn’t afford to go to a doctor.

Then the 51-year-old carpenter’s luck changed.

He stopped at a petrol station in December and, on an impulse, bought a ‘Merry Millionaire’ scratchy – and won $1 million ($AU1.25 million).

But 23 days later the poor guy was dead.

When his money – about $840,000 after US tax arrived – the first thing he did was go for a medical check-up.

But the result was something he could never have imagined – he had stage four, terminal cancer.

“I was hoping the money was maybe going to save his life,” Danielle Scott, who sold him the winning ticket, told local TV news.

“He was self-employed. He didn’t have insurance, he hadn’t been feeling good for a while, I guess, and when he got the money he went into the doctor.”

“This is going change our lives, to tell you the truth,” Savastano said when he picked up his winnings.

“I didn’t really have a plan for retirement.

“The money will help with that.

“I’m probably going to go get a new truck and, I don’t know, probably go on vacation.”

But that never happened.


Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.