A story about the world’s luckiest man doesn’t seem like it would start with a fatal heart attack. For Bill Morgan, that’s exactly what started an extraordinary streak of good fortune.
Bill was a truck driver, living in a caravan park in Melbourne, Australia. He was 37 years old in June 1998, when he was nearly crushed to death in a traffic accident. Although he survived the experience, he was left with a serious heart condition. His physicians prescribed medication to treat his heart ailment. Unbeknownst to Morgan, his body began to develop an allergy to the drug. The first indication that the medication had become to his health was when he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed. He was clinically dead.
That’s when his luck started to change. Although dead for 14 minutes, doctors managed to restart his heart. His prognosis was not very good, however. Bill was in a coma, and his physicians were pessimistic about his chances for recovery. They advised Bill’s family to take him off life support.
“I went into a coma and Dandenong Hospital said they were turning off the machine because even if I came to I was going to be brain dead and a vegetable for all my life,” said Bill. “My sisters didn’t want them to turn it off, and there was a specialist from the Alfred Hospital who said, ‘We’ll take him, but we want to use him as a guinea pig, essentially, and try different things, if one of them works, great.’”
Fortunately, his family held on to hope that their loved one would awaken from the coma. After 12 days, that’s exactly what he did.
When Bill emerged from the coma and was able to walk out of the hospital, with all of his faculties intact, doctors proclaimed him a “medical miracle.”
Less than one year after Bill was given a new lease on life, he proposed to his girlfriend, Lisa Wells. She said yes.
With things finally going his way, Bill decided to purchase a scratch-off instant lottery ticket in May 1999. Much to his surprise and delight, that ticket won him a new Toyota Corolla worth approximately AU$17,000.
News of Bill’s impressive change of fortune came to the attention of a Melbourne television station. It decided to do a story about Bill and asked him to re-enact his lottery-winning moment. As the camera crew recorded him, Bill walked into the same store where he purchased the earlier ticket. He bought a ticket, scratched it off, and realized his lucky streak had yet to run out.
“I just won $250,000,” Bill said, holding up the ticket. “I’m not joking!”
The AU$250,000 (US$190,000) jackpot provided Bill the means to purchase a new house for him and his bride.
More than twenty years after these extraordinary events, Bill is married to Lisa, and they live comfortably in the house he purchased with his winnings. His health continues to be a problem for him, but you won’t hear any complaints from Bill Morgan.
“Every day I get up and put on my shoes, and even if I’m not real well I have a shuffle down the road and smell the roses, look at the sun and think about how lucky I am,” he said. “I won $250,000. The house I live in, I own. I’ve got a nice enough car that I own. Sure, I had to retire because the heart got too much and I’m riddled with arthritis, but it was all for the best.”
Editor’s Note: We share this story because it really is an amazing tale in so many ways. Since we strive to make Commonplace Fun Facts a family-friendly site, however, we feel the need to point out that Bill Morgan’s experience with the lottery is extraordinary precisely because it is so unbelievingly unlikely. If you are inclined to try to replicate his winning streak, we recommend that you first read this article about the odds — and risks — involved in playing the lottery.