Winner claims $36.1m lottery prize

Someone has tonight claimed the $36.1 million Big Wednesday prize - New Zealand's richest ever lottery prize.

The ticket with the winning numbers 19, 9, 11, 39, 24, 28 and the correct coin toss of heads was sold in the town of Masterton.

NZ Lotteries spokeswoman Karen Jones told NZPA someone had phoned the hotline late tonight claiming they had the winning ticket but would give few details.

"Obviously it is only phone contact and they still have to go through the official process," she said.

The winner could either present the ticket to a Lotto outlet anywhere in New Zealand or visit the NZ Lotteries office in Wellington to fill out the prize claim forms. Ms Jones said special precautions would be taken to protect the privacy of the winner. That could including meeting them in another town or away from the NZ Lotteries office.

The winning ticket sellers, whose store was robbed just two days ago, believe the winner will be known within 24 hours in the township.

About 23,000 people live in and around Masterton, where speculation will be running hot on who bought the ticket.

"Being a small town somebody will know who has won, for sure. It will be out within 24 hours who has won," said Maureen Taute, who owns the Kuripuni Take Note Lotto & Post Shop with her husband Allen and their daughters.

The shop was robbed on an undisclosed amount by a man wearing a hoodie and bandanna on Monday.

However, that was "past history" and police had asked that she not reveal too many details, Mrs Taute said.

She said she was pleasantly "shattered" on learning the shop had sold tonight's winning ticket.

The prize includes $34,453,401 cash, an Audi R8, a Porsche Cayenne, $250,000 credit on an American Express Platinum Card, $250,000 cash towards luxury travel, a Four Winns V258 boat, and $750,000 cash towards a bach.

The store also sold a ticket which has won Big Wednesday second division, winning an additional $696,795, believed also to be the winner of the big prize.

"Some people react differently, some will tell the whole world and others keep very quiet, or try to," she told NZPA.

Mrs Taute said the shop was also a KiwiBank and they couldn't rush down to reopen tonight.

They were "as ready as anyone can be" for the attention that would be directed their way over the next few days, she said.

Mrs Taute couldn't rule out that the family were the winners, as she had left her ticket in the shop and wouldn't be able to check it until tomorrow, though she was talking before the news someone had rung to claim the prize.

It would be great to meet the winners but she was sure they wouldn't come into the shop and broadcast the whole thing, she said.

The shop had sold tickets that won $5.5m and $500,000 in the last two months, she said.

They had met the winners of the previous draws in the days after, once the hype had died down.

"The last two have been regulars. We were very chuffed about that, they were locals and regulars.

"Whoever has won it, I hope they really need it."

NZ Lotteries set up a special hotline for the winner -- 0800 888 884.

Mrs Taute said she almost hoped they went directly to NZ Lotteries so she wouldn't have to fend off inquiries.

The previous largest Big Wednesday first division prize was a $12.8m package in February 2006, and the largest previous single lottery prize was $19 million in Powerball in April 2008.

NZ Lotteries said 4.78 million Big Wednesday tickets were sold for tonight's draw, compared to 500,000 in an average week. It generated $28 million in sales.

About 20 cents in every dollar spent on lottery tickets is transferred to the NZ Lottery Grants Board to be distributed to good causes.

- NZPA

- NZ Herald

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