Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Waikato town abuzz over Lotto win

Nilesh Patel and his wife, Rina, who work at the Four Square in Te Kauwhata, where the latest winning lotto ticket was sold. 
Photo / Steven McNicholl
Nilesh Patel and his wife, Rina, who work at the Four Square in Te Kauwhata, where the latest winning lotto ticket was sold. Photo / Steven McNicholl

All but one of those who bought a Lotto ticket in a tiny Waikato town can stop dreaming - a winner has come forward to claim Saturday's $26 million Powerball draw.

The winning ticket was sold in Te Kauwhata, and the tiny Waikato town - population 1200 - was abuzz with speculation yesterday as to who the new multi-millionaire might be.

On April Fool's day, online forums also lit up with rumours. One Trade Me user set off a chorus of despair after he claimed the winner was from Remuera and bought the ticket while visiting their farm. NZ Lotteries spokeswoman Karen Jones said they were contacted yesterday morning by a person who believed they were the winner.

She would not reveal any further details about the winner, other than that the ticket was held by an individual person.

"They were shocked and wanting to keep their head down and not let anybody know ... I asked them if they were planning to celebrate, and they said, yes, they planned a few drinks [last night]."

The prize will be the second-largest individual payout and is made up of $333,333 from Lotto First Division and $26,264,932 from Powerball First Division.

Rina Patel, Lotto manager at the Te Kauwhata Four Square, said a steady stream of people visited the store yesterday morning to check their tickets.

About 80 per cent of the town's residents bought Lotto tickets at the store, and Mrs Patel said she hoped one of them had picked up the prize money.

Her family had run the business for 18 years and knew every family in town - but nobody had given themselves away by purchasing a bottle or two of champagne since Saturday night.

"No, they'd know we're looking at everything - 'Hey, what are you celebrating?' ... We hope it's a local and someone who really deserves it."

At the takeaway shop next door Gary Chown and Kristin Philpott "absolutely" denied their fish and chips were celebratory.

Mr Chown said he managed to hold off checking his ticket until 11am.

"I was sort of excited that I might have won it, but then I was also shit scared that I might have won it, too - that's a pretty terrifying amount of money. It could destroy you, too."

He said the town was "humming" with the news, and if the ticket was held by a local, their identity would eventually be known.

"There was a $250,000 ticket sold there three or four months ago, and I just found out today who that was - he was a guy I used to drink with in the pub."

Mrs Philpott said the win and resulting gossip was great for Te Kauwhata and she half-planned to call in sick to work tomorrow to give the pot another stir.

"I would love to ring in tomorrow and say I can't come into work. Because everybody would say, oh, Kristin's won it."

How to spend $26 million

$24 million: Buy one of the last freehold islands in Fiji, the 91ha Katafanga Island, featuring a turquoise blue lagoon and sugar white beaches.

$3 million: Keep Kaino in black. Buy out All Black forward Jerome Kaino's newly signed 2-year contract with Japanese club side Toyota, worth more than $1 million a year.

$26 million: A generous local could give $22,165 to each and every one of Te Kauwhata's 1200 residents.

$2.4 million: Book your favourite artist to perform a private concert. Beyonce allegedly earned US$2 million ($2.4 million) for performing at a private 2009 New Year's Eve party for former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son.

$244,000: Sign up for a trip to the outer edges of the earth's atmosphere on Virgin Galactic. Tickets for the 2-hour flight cost US$200,000 ($244,000).

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 26 Jul 2014 14:12:09 Processing Time: 976ms