Martha Matthews loves selling winning tickets

By Cassandra Mason, Mike Dinsdale

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Is Martha Matthews Northland's lady luck?
Is Martha Matthews Northland's lady luck?

Like any store worker Martha Matthews loves to take money across the counter, but what she likes even better is giving it out.

And it's something she does on a surprisingly regular basis, with her workplace - Countdown Whangarei - the luckiest Lotto outlet in Northland last year.

Martha is believed to be the most popular person in Countdown and she thinks that's just because she can make her customers millionaires.

Punters pocketed $1.4 million in winnings from tickets sold at Countdown Whangarei last year, including the region's single biggest win of $1.2 million on Strike Four.

Martha probably sold that winning ticket - she's sells more than 70 per cent of tickets in the store - and she understands it was to regular customers, but she found it hard to believe her store is the luckiest in the region.

Sometimes those she has sold winning tickets to come back to thank her and that gives her the biggest buzz.

"That's just great [when they do]. I love to take money, but I really love to give money away and it's great to know that that money is going back into our community," she said.

Martha said the same customers came regularly to the outlet because they felt it was "lucky".

Most people opted for a lucky dip when buying a ticket, but some had been sticking with the same numbers for "as long as Lotto has been around".

Average ticket sales were around $20, but some people were spending $256 on a single punt.

She had no particularly lucky routine or mantra while giving out the tickets, but passed on her good luck vibes to all.

Figures from the Lotteries Commission show Kaipara was the region's luckiest Lotto district, with per capita winnings of $89.80, followed by $78.47 in Whangarei and $54.96 in the Far North.

NZ Problem Gambling Foundation marketing and communications director Andree Roude said Lotto players were "buying into a dream" with about $765 million spent on Lotto and Big Wednesday in 2013.

"[Lotto] is gambling. A lot of people don't put it into the same category [because] it's one of the less harmful forms of gambling compared to pokie machines."

Buying a Lotto ticket and waiting for the result was less addictive than the "instant gratification" of pokies. However, "the harm from Lotto can come when people are spending much more than they can afford ... where the family budget to buy food might be going on Lotto tickets because there's a huge jackpot."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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