Lotto: $47 million up for grabs

By Patrice Dougan

Lotto fever is building, with a record $47 million up for grabs this week.

Officials expect an extra 500,000 tickets to be sold, with $20m to play for in Big Wednesday tomorrow and a $27m Powerball prize possible on Saturday.

The combined jackpot pool is the biggest ever, and each prize is the third largest in its respective game.

Staff at New Zealand's luckiest Lotto store, Radius Pharmacy in Hastings, have already noticed an increase in interest.

"Over the past few weeks sales have been rapidly climbing," said manager Nanette Woodham. "The momentum's there."

The store has sold 36 first division winning tickets since Lotto started in 1987 - the latest just four weeks ago.

"People coming from out of town always make a beeline for our shop if they're Lotto players to buy a ticket," Ms Woodham said.

With each jackpot capped at $30m, she expects next week to be even busier if Powerball isn't won on Saturday.

"It will be a Must-Be-Won week, so next week will be a very busy one. Once it starts getting up to these huge amounts, non-Lotto players decide to have a go as well."

The last time such a large amount was won was a year ago, when a 20-year-old Tauranga man scooped the second biggest Big Wednesday prize of $27m.

Lotto NZ expects some half a million extra tickets to be sold for this week's draws.

"As Saturdays are our busiest trading day with regards to sales of Lotto and Lotto Powerball tickets, we won't know until the end of the week," a spokeswoman said.

"There have only ever been eight prizes of more than $20m won. So whenever these jackpots get struck, they'll make history."

- APNZ

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