Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

$27m winner - my new life

Jensen Zeng pictured in his shop in central Tauranga. Photo / Alan Gibson
Jensen Zeng pictured in his shop in central Tauranga. Photo / Alan Gibson

He's young, single, cares about the planet ... and he's $27 million richer than he was last week.

Tauranga twenty-something "Jack" - he's not revealing his real name - has been the talk of the city since he scooped the third-biggest win in Lotto history this week.

Yesterday, he spoke exclusively to the Weekend Herald.

Sleep-deprived but exhilarated, he was still coming to terms with the win that has made him one of New Zealand's most eligible bachelors.

A "typical Kiwi bloke", Jack has been through his share of relationships and remains keen to find "the right one".

Asked whether his dramatic windfall would change his chances, he said: "I've learned a lot of hard lessons from women over the years, and I'll be very, very careful about who I decide to have a relationship with."

A "budget radio off the radio station" had been his only win when he went to AJ's Lotto and Tobacconist in Tauranga's main street.

He was planning only to get a haircut from the barbershop at the back of the store.

But it was closed, so in a spur-of-the-moment decision, he used his haircut money to get a Big Wednesday ticket instead.

"I checked it the day after the draw, but the phone wasn't working properly and it showed the draw for the previous week," he said with a chuckle.

"I thought, 'That's a loss, yeah.' I did go to throw it in the rubbish bin but I decided to put it on the bench."

The next day, his workmates were talking about a big win for a ticket sold at the store.

"I said, 'Yeah, I bought a ticket from there', and I still didn't think I'd won.

"I tried ignoring it, and carrying on with my work, but of course it was in the back of my mind, 'Oh God, I hope I made a mistake on that, I've got to check it when I get home,' and yeah, I was so happy that I did make a mistake on that. I went back home, re-checked it ... and freaked out.

"I was still staring at it quite blankly and I realised that I had won it. I thought, 'My God, I don't have to struggle to survive through life any more' ..."

Jack phoned store owner Jensen Zeng, who had spent much of the day fielding phone calls from reporters.

"I tried not to disclose too much over the phone and asked, 'Can you stay open a bit later?' He said, 'No, I'm a business'. So I had to tell him, 'I've got the winning ticket'.

"He was over the moon. He was just so excited."

The next day, Jack travelled to Lotto's headquarters in Wellington.

He was still shaking as he filled out the paper work.

"The seriousness of it all is starting to sink in, now that I've stopped shaking and I'm able to think a little bit more clearly," he told the Weekend Herald afterwards.

"More what's sinking in is the responsibility that comes with it."

Jack wants to take a few days to reflect and then buy a new car and maybe build his first house.

"I am a bit of a greenie, so I am really keen on sustainable living. It has been my dream to build my own eco-friendly house and live off the grid. That dream is now possible."

He'll also be helping his family, "who have been so good at supporting me over recent years".

In the meantime, he wants to "stay under the radar" for as long as he can.

- NZ Herald

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