Dannevirke's reputation as one of New Zealand's luckiest Lotto towns has been enhanced by a $14 million Big Wednesday win.
The ticket, sold at the Blockbuster video store on High St, was worth more than $13.3 million cash and luxury items including a Lamborghini Gallardo, Audi Q7, Rayglass 2200 boat and Visa Platinum card loaded with $50,000.
The news had residents scrambling to check their tickets, hoping they were in the money.
"My wife Pat told me about the prize coming to Dannevirke and I was quick to check my tickets. I would have loved to have had that ticket, but I only had two numbers unfortunately," David Harris said. "But I like to hear good news like this for Dannevirke. It's great."
The winning numbers were 8, 13, 25, 30, 42 and 44 and the coin toss was heads.
The store's manager Ann Shore said she was delighted.
"I'm just hoping it's a deserving local who has won, but with a lot of passing traffic, there's the possibility it could be an out-of-towner," she said.
The store has been open since Lotto began and in the week leading up to the Big Wednesday draw, there had been 319 sales, 223 of them on Wednesday.
For Dannevirke's Bill Ingram, the prospect of having a winning ticket in his wallet left him shaking.
"Jeez, how much is the winning amount? I've got a ticket and I'm pretty sure I purchased it at Blockbuster. That $14 million makes the $20 in my wallet now look pretty sick. My hands are shaking already, just trying to find my ticket," he said.
However, one Dannevirke man is likely to be getting some stick from his wife today, Mrs Shore said.
"She came in to hire a game for her son and was going to buy a Big Wednesday, but her husband told her he'd purchased one elsewhere. I wouldn't like to be in his shoes today," she said.
Mrs Shore said this was a moment of glory for staff and an exciting time.
"It'll be even more exciting if the winner comes in to claim their prize. The terminal locks down and we have to call in another staff member," she said. "But I'd imagine they'd go to Wellington to collect a prize like this. But we're on edge anyway."
With almost $14 million in cash, people were quick to point out the winner would be able to afford to buy Dannevirke itself.
"Jammy devils. But good on them whoever it is," one resident said at the Anzac Day dawn parade.
In April 2011 a Dannevirke resident won $17 million - half of a winning powerball haul of $35 million - earning our town the title of New Zealand's luckiest Lotto town of the year.
The $17 million win, along with two Saturday night Winning Wheel spins, saw Dannevirke top all others in the country to take out the title. The winners of that life-changing $17 million have chosen to remain anonymous.
This latest win came just hours after Tararua District councillors had been debating a review of its gambling policy.
"The issue we have is that the number of gaming machines isn't dropping and we have a very high level of machines for our population," Peter Wimsett, manager for strategy and district development, said.
Since its adoption of a sinking lid policy in 2004, the number of Class 4 venues operating in the district has dropped from 15 to 13. However, during the same period, the number of gambling machines has risen from 127 to 134.
"The sinking lid policy isn't proving very effective," Mr Wimsett said. "While the proceeds flow on to benefit many community groups in the district, it's probably having a significant detrimental impact on a number of lower income households."
Councillor Chris Southgate said he was appalled at the high gambling spend per head of population in the district.
"Given the socio-economic status of the Tararua, to have the spend here only exceeded by south Waikato and the Horowhenua is appalling. Gambling is dreadfully harmful to the families of addicts and I believe it's a case of taking money off those who can least afford it, to recycle into the pockets of others," he said. "We've cracked down on drink driving, but by having more of these machine people can't help themselves."
Councillor Warren Davidson agreed.
"The harm is very real for people with a gambling addiction. So we need to decide whether we can harden up on our gambling machine cap," he said.
Councillor David Roberts pointed out people weren't forced to gamble, smoke or drink.
"There is a choice," he said. "At what stage do we take over the running of their lives?"
Councillors voted to continue with their sinking lid policy, with a target number of 100 machines and would not consent to an increase in that number.