The Surprising Truth About How a Big Lottery Win Changed Meghan Markle’s Life

Much in life is based entirely on chance —or as some choose to believe, pure luck. We’ve all heard stories about people winning a bundle in the lottery, effectively changing the course of their lives forever. This was certainly the case when Meghan Markle’s father played his lucky numbers three decades ago.

We’ll look at what happened to Meghan as a result of her father’s winning the lottery. See how Meghan played a role in the lucky numbers her father picked (page 2) and how his winnings indirectly helped foster qualities in her that Prince Harry would one day find so attractive (page 5).

How it all began

Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland

Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland. | Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images

Meghan’s parents Doria Ragland and Tom Markle Sr. met in the late 1970s on the set of ABC soap opera General Hospital. She was a makeup artist in training, and he had established his role as lighting director. Twelve years Doria’s senior, Tom already had two children, Tom Jr. and Yvonne.

The couple married, and Meghan was born a year later. The marriage was short-lived, however, and the two split when Meghan was just two years old.

Next: Meghan’s lucky numbers

Meghan’s lucky birth date numbers

Tom Markle played Meghan’s birthdate. | Meghanmarkle_hd via Instagram

In 1990, when Meghan was around nine years old, her father won the California State Lottery, taking home $750,000 when he played five numbers, including Meghan’s birthdate. The thousands he’d spent over the years on lottery tickets had finally paid off.

Next: Unfortunately, he lost some.

Swindled by a pal

Lottery Tickets

A former friend stole most of the winnings.  | Warren-Pender/iStock/Getty Images

He wanted to keep the winnings a secret because of outstanding divorce matters with his ex-wife, Doria. So, he had a friend pick up the lottery winnings instead of going in person. However, this backfired when the so-called friend swindled him out of most of the money. Tom went on to declare bankruptcy within three years.

Next: What he bought Meghan with the winnings

The winnings paid for private school

The money paid for Meghan’s quality education.  | Harry_meghan_updates via Instagram

However, Tom Sr. did receive some of the lottery money and used it to help his son Tom Jr. open a flower shop, buy his daughter Yvonne a car, and pay for Meghan’s private education at Immaculate Heart Catholic school. The school was walking distance from Tom’s Los Angeles home, so Meghan lived with him during the week.

Next: During high school, Meghan found a royal role model.

Her high school class discussed Diana’s death

She was deeply affected by Princess Diana’s death. | Kevin Larkin/AFP/Getty Images

Meghan was attending Immaculate Heart in 1997 when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash. She and her friends watched the funeral in tears. In her philosophy class at the time, discussion centered around the paradox of a young mother and famous humanitarian losing her life so tragically.

The young aspiring actress was intrigued by the way the princess lived her short life, including her heartfelt charity efforts—to such an extent that her friend’s mom bought her the biography Diana: Her True Story.

Next: See her at Buckingham Palace as a teen.

She wanted “to be Princess Diana 2.0”

Meghan Markle outside Buckingham Palace as a teenager. | Princess Diana_The Royal Family via Twitter

Viewing Diana as a role model, Meghan and friend Suzy Ardakani collected clothes and toys for children in need. “She was always fascinated by the royal family,” observed another childhood pal, Ninaki Priddy. “She wants to be Princess Diana 2.0.”

In November 2017, Priddy shared a photo with the media of her and Meghan as teenagers visiting Buckingham Palace.

Next: See the charities Meghan has supported

More charity work for Meghan

Meghan Markle attends RELAIS & CHATEAUX 60th Anniversary Guest Chef Dinner Launch at Consulate General of France

She’s always been interested in philanthropy. | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Relais & Chateaux

Over the years, as she grew her acting career, Meghan also devoted much of her time to philanthropy. She’s played a part in the following charities:

  • She supported World Vision’s Clean Water Campaign in Rwanda in 2016.
  • She was a counselor at One Young World summits in Ireland (2014) and Canada (2016), advocating for young leaders from around the world.
  • She was an advocate for the United Nations in Rwanda in 2016.

Next: Her royal future

She and Prince Harry will continue charity work together

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry holding hands and walking together.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games, one of Harry’s charities.  | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

In July 2016, Meghan and Prince Harry reportedly went on a blind date organized by a mutual friend who was a Ralph Lauren PR executive. They hit it off right away, and the rest is history. Their shared commitment to charity work surely provided plenty of common ground. They started attending charitable events together in coming months.

Would the couple have met and hit it off if Tom Markle hadn’t won the lottery and sent Meghan to a Catholic school, where she developed her admiration of Princess Diana? Maybe, but either way, it sure makes for a great, real-life fairy tale.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!