Winner was sitting on $5.5 million

By James Ihaka

It is the sixth time this year the top Powerball prize has been won. Photo / APN
It is the sixth time this year the top Powerball prize has been won. Photo / APN

A new Waikato millionaire who was too afraid to check his lotto ticket enjoyed a beer in a pub with some mates - not knowing that he was sitting on a windfall.

While reporters descended on Kihikihi, talking to the local Lotto retailer and people in the pub, a local man had the winning $5.5 million ticket in his pocket.

The man drove to Wellington yesterday to present his ticket after discovering on Tuesday that he had the winning numbers to Saturday night's Powerball draw.

"I just had a funny feeling I might have won and I was too scared to check my ticket for a couple of days," the ticket-holder said through Lotteries staff.

"I was even sitting in the pub having a drink when reporters came in and asked the bar staff if they knew who the winner was, or if anyone had been in shouting drinks.

"Meanwhile, I actually had the ticket in my back pocket the whole time."

The news was a shot in the arm for locals who feared the windfall may have gone to someone outside the town.

People the Herald spoke to earlier said it would be difficult to keep the win secret but yesterday they closed ranks and chose not to reveal the winner's identity.

But one of the man's friends said he was "totally deserving" of the prize. She said he had children and a job but was facing hard times.

"It definitely has come at a time where he does need it," the man's friend said.

"He's a very nice, humble man and if he says he would help his community he will.

"I think he'll probably have a big party."

Young Yeo, who owns the Kihikihi Bookshop where the ticket was sold, said he wished the winner well and that the news had been good for his business.

"We can now put a display in the window that says Powerball was won at our shop," he said.

- NZ Herald

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