It is little wonder Lotto's latest multimillion-dollar winner has gone into hiding. The 34-year-old checkout operator known only as Trevor has quickly learned that more than almost boundless possibilities await those who enjoy a $26 million windfall. Requests for some of his winnings are but one of the perils awaiting him.
The sheer size of his prize, beyond the comprehension of most people, creates its many pitfalls. And suggests that it is time for NZ Lotteries to take a more sensible approach to the allotment of prizes.
Trevor's $26 million is part of a worldwide lottery trend towards enormous prizes. At almost the same time as his world changed for ever, three ticket-holders in the United States were learning they would share a record $640 million jackpot. But the trio also received a sobering message from a man who had won $110 million in a Pennsylvania lottery in 2004. "Good luck to those winners, they're going to need it," said Steven White.
His sentiment is widely echoed by many other big winners. Yet NZ Lotteries is against these huge jackpots being scaled back, saying they prompt a big increase in sales. Surely, however, there would be equal interest if, say, $10 million was the top prize and was offered more frequently. This would be more than enough for most people, and would negate at least to some degree the type of problems that Trevor from Te Kauwhata now faces. When money of this magnitude is at stake, more is not necessarily better.