A lucky Powerball player has extra reason to celebrate after winning $12.1 million with Powerball First Division while on a special trip to Wanaka to celebrate his birthday.
The winner, who wishes to remain anonymous, doesn’t usually make a big deal of his birthday but when a friend suggested that he and his wife visit them in Wanaka this year they decided to treat themselves.
"There are always a million reasons not to go, but after a bit of convincing from our friend we decided to bite the bullet and head down for a special weekend away - without the kids," said the winner.
After a busy day of sightseeing, the couple decided to head to New World Wanaka to pick up a few things for dinner.
"We just wanted a quiet night in to celebrate my birthday with our friends, so went to New World to pick up something special for dinner - lamb and a salad," the winner said.
"As we headed out to the car we saw the queue at the Lotto counter and decided to pick up a ticket. It was quite busy though, so there was a bit of a wait - we nearly left the line, actually."
"He was getting a bit impatient and wanted to head back to the house, but I wouldn’t let him," laughed the winner’s wife. "After all, what’s another couple of minutes?"
Later that evening, the winner read the news online that a winning Powerball ticket was sold at Wanaka New World.
"When I saw that the winning ticket had been sold at the same shop we bought our ticket from, I knew I had to check it. I pulled up the winning numbers on MyLotto and checked them off - and there they were, all in a row on line F," said the winner.
"He casually called out - ‘come here, I think we’ve won Lotto’. I thought we’d maybe won $20 or so, there was nothing in his voice that hinted at just how big the prize was," said the winner’s wife.
As everyone gathered around and checked the ticket, the couple realised just how lucky they had become - and needed to decide how to keep the ticket safe on their journey home the next day.
"We were flying back to Auckland on Sunday morning and didn’t want the ticket to go walkabout on the flight. We wanted something that was a decent size, so we could see at glance that it was still safely tucked away. My friend ratted through the house and found an old box inside a cupboard, so we hid the ticket inside that."
Despite knowing just how much that lucky yellow piece of paper was worth, the winners were in no hurry to claim their prize.
"We had a few errands to run first thing on Monday, so we ticked them off the list before we headed into Lotto NZ’s head office to claim the prize. I just left the box with the ticket inside it hidden under the front seat of the car," the winner said.
With an incredible birthday weekend behind them and the winnings now safely in their bank account, the lucky couple are looking forward to enjoying their windfall.
"We haven’t even told the kids yet, so that’s the next big thing to do - it’ll be a pretty memorable moment, that’s for sure!
"As for what we’ll do, we definitely want to help people - this win will go a lot further than our immediate family.
"We both love travelling and sports, so might treat the family to trip to Japan for the Rugby World Cup next year - or even the Olympics. It’s incredible to think that these will be options for us now," the winner said.
One thing’s certain - this birthday weekend away will take the cake as the winner’s best birthday ever.
"This was the best birthday present I could have ever received - I don’t think it will be possible to beat. It’s an absolute life-changer," said the winner.
This Powerball win is the seventh time Powerball has been struck so far this year. This is the second Powerball First Division prize won in the South Island in 2018, following a $20.2 million Powerball win in Christchurch in February.
The $12.1 million Powerball prize is the largest prize ever won in Central Otago and ninth largest prize ever won in the South Island.
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