For $27m, will your lucky numbers come up?

By Brendan Manning

Customers are flocking to a local Lotto store in record numbers ahead of tonight's $27 million Big Wednesday jackpot.

Cherrywood Lotto & Bookshop co-owner Chris Dunn said most punters were letting the machine choose their numbers, and many people who did not usually buy tickets were forming work syndicates. "It suddenly becomes quite a fun thing."

Fourteen first division tickets and 58 second division tickets have been sold at the store over the years, Mr Dunn said. Tonight's mammoth draw is the fourth-largest prize in Lotto history.

The dizzying jackpot is sending hopeful Kiwi punters into a ticket-buying frenzy. It would be the biggest cash prize scooped by a single player. The highest-ever total, $36 million, was split three years ago by a Masterton family.

So, what would you do with the fortune? You could buy 62 average Kiwi properties, or, snap up the $22 million Glendowie mansion owned by New Zealand's richest man, Graeme Hart.

Perhaps you'd prefer a wild, all expenses world trip or guiltless splurge on luxury clothing and expensive sports cars.

Tonight's winning ticket holder has the option of trying to remain anonymous, or heading down to Lotto HQ in Wellington for a small winners' ceremony with officials, washed down with champagne.

"It's very relaxed," spokeswoman Victoria Barton-Chapple said.

A winner's manual - This is not a dream - is also provided, filled with advice from previous winners, finance experts and a glossary of financial terms the newfound millionaires will need to brush up on.

The reaction varies person to person, but most are understandably shocked, Ms Barton-Chapple said.

"Something like $100,000 just makes their life so much easier, but it's not an amount that they are going to stress about. It's enough to have a trip and give some money to the kids.

"But once you're getting over the three, four, five million mark - that's when people start thinking, 'Gosh, this is big, this is really life changing'."

The money usually takes about five working days to clear in the winner's bank accounts and the prizes are not taxed.

The most memorable winners Ms Barton-Chapple had dealt with were Trevor Cooper, the former checkout operator from Te Kauwhata who won a cool $26 million early this year, and the Masterton family syndicate.

"Both of those were just amazing - wonderful people who really needed it and it made all the difference in the world to them."

The Masterton family were a little more media-shy than Trevor, and unfortunately the grandmother died last year.

"She had a good couple of years with the money. I remember talking to one of the girls who said, 'She actually buys steak now'."

Big Wednesday First Division was last won in March, when an Auckland family won $11.4m. The prize package has been jackpotting ever since.

Luxury prizes in this week's $27m jackpot include $675,000 cash towards a bach, $50,000 towards luxury travel, a $50,000 Platinum VISA card, an Audi Q7, a Rayglass 2200 Boat and a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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