Lotto fever worth $44m hits Whangarei

By Alexandra Newlove

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Barry Wienand and Michelle Nicolson at the Paper Plus outlet during ticket sales for the Lotto prive draw of $44 million. Photo: Michael Cunningham
Barry Wienand and Michelle Nicolson at the Paper Plus outlet during ticket sales for the Lotto prive draw of $44 million. Photo: Michael Cunningham

What a week to take over a stationery shop.

Barry Wienand's purchase of Paper Plus Whangarei has been marked by daily queues out the door, thanks to a skyrocketing Lotto jackpot which peaked at a "must-win" $44 million last night.

"It's very exciting. It's actually quite crazy, I can't believe it," Mr Wienand said at lunchtime yesterday, as an optimistic queue spilled out into the sunny Cameron St mall.

Lotto officials were reminding people to have fun but "play responsibly" with people buying a single ticket netting a 1 in 38,383,800 chance to win the country's biggest ever jackpot.

Paper Plus Whangarei manager Michelle Nicolson said the store had been averaging 300 Lotto customers a day, "and today would be twice that".

"We've done $8000 in Lotto today already, that's big," Ms Nicolson said. "Unfortunately we've only got the one machine so we do have that line out the door. We get through people as quickly as we can."

Customers ranged from the regulars, to people buying their first ever ticket.

"Syndicates will come in with a handful of change and go 'we've got $54, what's the best ticket we can get?' and they hand it to you in 50 cent pieces, that's so fun."

The millionaire hopefuls lining up in Whangarei were coy about their ambitions.

"I'd stick it in the bank and tell nobody, absolutely nobody," said one man who, unsurprisingly, did 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 said. "You've gotta hand your resignation in in person! No but seriously, I would go in tomorrow, of course."

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

"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," said next-in-line Jackie Parry. "I would die."

Bridget Penny said 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 were three times more than those for a lower jackpot level.

All profits from Lotto tickets are returned to the community as lottery grants. The Northern Advocate went to print just prior to the draw. Results at mylotto.co.nz.

- Northern Advocate

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