Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Tiny town scores big lottery win

Te Kauwhata Four Square owner Jesal Patel (bottom right), with family. Photo / Stephen Barker
Te Kauwhata Four Square owner Jesal Patel (bottom right), with family. Photo / Stephen Barker

One lucky person is waking up with a $26,264,932 smile this morning after taking the Powerball jackpot in last night's draw.

The ticket was sold in Te Kauwhata and a Lotto spokeswoman this afternoon said they had been contacted by someone believing they were the winner.

However, this could not be confirmed until they checked their ticket at a store or went to Wellington and had the ticket checked at head office.

The winner checked their ticket this morning and found out they were the winner, she said.

Te Kauwhata will be abuzz because the winner could be a resident of the tiny town - population 1200.

Shop owner Jesal Patel said he was "very, very excited" to have sold the winning ticket through his Four Square outlet.

"My whole family who run the shop are ecstatic. We have had a very lucky year.

We already sold a First Division ticket this year and an Instant Kiwi win of $10,000. I hope it was someone local but we tend to get a lot of people passing through. We are only a small town of 1200 but we have high Lotto sales," he said.

Lotteries chief executive Wayne Pickup said the jackpot had been growing every week since it was last won by a player in Orewa, on New Year's Eve.

"This is the third-largest lottery prize won by a single ticket in NZ Lotteries' history."

The prize is made up of $333,333 from Lotto First Division, and $26,264,932 million from Powerball First Division.

A Lotto winner who previously scooped a mere $5.2 million on Powerball urges anyone hitting the jackpot to keep it quiet and get the best professional advice possible.

The married mother of two from Wellington was given the lucky dip ticket by her husband in February 2009.

The family, who had been renting, bought a $2m house and took a luxury holiday to Europe. The cash also enabled her to help friends and family and she gave $90,000 to a local charity.

"It has been fantastic winning the money but with it comes a lot of responsibility," the woman, who asked not to be named, said. "The Lotto people can only advise you to seek financial advice and I'd tell any winner to do that straight away.

"Tell as few people as possible you have won because you soon find out who your real friends are."

About two million tickets were sold this week, raking in $18m, an 80 per cent increase on a normal week.

- Herald on Sunday

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