Whangarei catches $44m Lotto fever

By Alexandra Newlove

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Caine Varley says he'll be turning up to work tomorrow regardless of the result of tonight's $44 million Lotto draw. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM
Caine Varley says he'll be turning up to work tomorrow regardless of the result of tonight's $44 million Lotto draw. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

Lotto fever has hit the nation with more than two million tickets expected to sell ahead of tonight's must-be-won, $44-million Powerball draw. Reporter Alexandra Newlove spoke to millionaire hopefuls lining up on Cameron Street this afternoon.

I've never bought a Lotto ticket before. My parents put me off as child, as they played the same numbers week in and out, realising they were trapped in the game forever lest their memorised figures came up the week after they called it quits.

But the tempting prospect of ringing the office champagne-drunk tomorrow morning with a "thanks, see ya later!" proved too much today.

Reporter Alexandra Newlove jumps for joy after buying her first-ever Lotto ticket. Imagine what she'll be like tomorrow if she wins. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM
Reporter Alexandra Newlove jumps for joy after buying her first-ever Lotto ticket. Imagine what she'll be like tomorrow if she wins. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

So I headed to Paper Plus at lunchtime, wearing a $1 op-shop dress my flatmate scored for me, hoping to bag the ticket worth 44 million times as much as the clothes on my back.

And I'm not alone in catching the madness that leads me to believe that the 1 in 38,383,800 odds will fall in my favour come 8pm tonight.

An optimistic queue spilled out into the sunny Cameron Street mall, headed by a visibly frantic staff member.

"Will the most expensive ticket give me the best chance?" I ask him, handing over my $26.

"Erm, sure. It will give you a chance, that's the main thing!"

Another worker told me the shop had sold $8000 in Lotto during the morning, with an average of 300 Lotto customers in the preceding days.

So, what would you do?

"Stick it in the bank and tell nobody, absolutely nobody," says the queuing first man I encounter, who unsurprisingly, will not give his name. "Then... probably buy land in the South Island, where there are less people and queues."

Council worker Caine Varley glances around when asked whether he's going into work tomorrow, given he's planning on being $44 million richer.

"Of course I would," he says. "You've gotta hand your resignation in in person! No but seriously, I would go in tomorrow, of course."

Mr Varley says his top priority would be paying off the mortgage, a common theme among many punters.

"Anything else? Something fun or outrageous?"

"That would be pretty fun for me," Mr Varley says. "It's not really PC to say take I'd the kids to the Gold Coast anymore, is it? Yeah, I'd pay the family debts."

"I have no idea," says next-in-line Jackie Parry. "I would die."

Bridget Penny says she would give most of the money away and focus on helping "other people, people who have helped me, my family, and animals". And for herself? "Pay my mortgage off."

Lotto NZ spokeswoman Kirsten Robinson said the expected ticket sales for the country's biggest Powerball draw ever are three times more than those for a lower jackpot level.

"The busiest time for ticket sales will be from 5pm tonight, so we're recommending players get in early to avoid missing out."

All profits from Lotto tickets are returned to the community as lottery grants. Ticket sales for tonight's draw - including online - close at 7.30pm.

- Northern Advocate

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