$26m checkout man checks out (of work)

By Nicholas Jones, Hana Garrett-Walker, Kiri Gillespie of the Bay of Plenty Times

Trevor took his parents, Kevin and Shirley, with him to the NZ Lotteries office in Wellington yesterday when he handed over his winning ticket and claimed his $26,598,265.  Photo / Mark Mitchell
Trevor took his parents, Kevin and Shirley, with him to the NZ Lotteries office in Wellington yesterday when he handed over his winning ticket and claimed his $26,598,265. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Te Kauwhata man who bet his $26 million Lotto win that he would return to work this morning has failed to show up for his 5am shift.

Trevor, 34, works as a checkout operator at Countdown Huntly.

He travelled to Wellington with his parents yesterday to claim the $26 million after his big win on Saturday but flew back to Waikato last night so he could work his 5am shift today.

"I'm starting back at work at 5am ... and as long as they want me, I will be there. I love my job too much to just walk away from it,'' he said yesterday.

But a Countdown manager said he had not shown up for work this morning.

He had spoken to his manager about not coming to work, she said.

Yesterday he appeared on Campbell Live and bet John Campbell his entire $26m he would be at work today.

"I can bet you 26.5 million dollars I'll be on that checkout tomorrow,'' he said.

Countdown Huntly manager Marie Hodgson said Trevor had not shown and said he had called his checkout supervisor to let them know he would not be in, despite his original plans.

She did not know why.

"I think he spoke to his boss up on check out.''

Ms Hodgson said staff at the Huntly supermarket were pleased for their workmate.

"They are all pretty excited,'' she said.

Trevor deserved the win.

"Pretty much what you see [with Trevor] is what you get.''

Ms Hodgson said Trevor came into work Monday morning to let his bosses know before he headed to Wellington to collect his winnings. Ms Hodgson said the big win "couldn't have happened to a nicer guy''.

When John Campbell heard Trevor had not shown up to work today he laughed, and then added: "I'm unable to comment because I'm now living in tax exile in Monaco, and (British Formula One driver) Jenson Button is about to give me a driving lesson''.

ENDING SMALL TOWN SPECULATION

Thirty-four-year-old Trevor put an end to the rumour and speculation swirling around Te Kauwhata - population 1200 - when he went public with the news yesterday that he was the winner of Saturday's $26 million Lotto and Powerball draw.

"I believe it's easier to have it out in the open, rather than have everyone chasing around, following me, trying to find out who is actually the big winner. I've won it, end of story, you know?" said Trevor, a single man who was described by NZ Lotteries as the country's most eligible bachelor.

"I'm just having a couple of Heinekens at the moment, and it's really starting to sink in, pretty much. Hey, the bank balance is bigger than the phone number."

He told the Herald that after he saw the numbers online on Sunday, a trip to Te Kauwhata Four Square confirmed the win. The owners snuck him out the back door to avoid suspicion.

An hour later, still in a daze, he returned to the store to buy a packet of cigarettes - only to find it filled with television news crews.

"With my ripped trackpants on and my T-shirt, they sort of looked at me and looked the other way. So I thought, 'Bugger ya, I've won Lotto and I'm going home.'

"It was like, 'Hey, I'm your winner, see you later ...' I got my packet of smokes and went back home [and] had a beer."

On Sunday, his flatmate woke him and told him to check his numbers because the winning ticket had been sold in Te Kauwhata.

He checked Powerball first, and then the rest of his numbers - three times.

"Apparently I collapsed to my knees on the ground, and all I could keep saying was, 'I made it, I won it, I've got $26 million'."

He drove to his parents' home in West Auckland to celebrate with them, his sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law.

"[Mum] said, 'Well, bring the ticket up and show me.' So the first thing I actually said was, 'Can I borrow $50 to get up there?' because I was broke."

A bath at 4 yesterday morning failed to calm his racing mind.

"At 5am, I was up and ... thinking, 'Hell, I'm 26-and-a-half million dollars richer today.' It was crazy. To be honest with you, it's insane."

Until Saturday night, Trevor had never won so much as a raffle. "If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all."

He said he could not begin to comprehend how he might go about spending $26,598,265 - but there would be some overseas travel. He has been to Australia before for some car racing.

"I'll probably lie low for awhile, have a bit of a holiday, and get myself in a thinking place where I can work out what I want to do with the money.

"I can tell you one thing," said the racing fanatic: "My father, myself, my brother-in-law, you'll probably find us at Western Springs speedway come this time next season driving our race car."

Trevor said he had the same affection for Te Kauwhata, where he has lived for about three years.

"It is a lovely place to live and you couldn't ask for a better lot of neighbours, locals. Very family-orientated community."

Trevor's winnings are the second-largest individual payout and are made up of $333,333 from Lotto First Division and $26,264,932 from Powerball First Division.

Psychologist Sara Chatwin has counselled previous big Lotto winners and said it was unusual for them to go public with the news.

"People like to protect their anonymity because there are always people out there who are ready to pounce on an opportunity, plead poverty, ask for a loan - all of those things.

"These things can have negative implications for individuals, but most people figure it out; generally it turns out pretty well. But people do have to have plans in place."

WINNING ADVICE

New Zealand Lotteries urges big winners to:

* Make sure the prizemoney gets deposited into an interest-earning bank account. The big decisions can be made later.
* Let off steam by taking out a small amount to do what you like with - shout your mates, or buy something for someone special.
* After you have decided on the best possible use for your money, use a professional adviser to help you invest some of it, and get advice about tax.
* When you contact an adviser, ask him or her how much the advice is going to cost you.
* Make sure your will is up to date, or ensure you get one.

- NZ Herald

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