A couple who won a million dollars from a Mount Maunganui Lotto ticket given as a Christmas gift plan to thank the relative who bought it for them by paying off their mortgage.
Saturday's lucky ticket was the second big winner bought at Bayfair Lotto recently - but not by the winning couple. The ticket was sent to the Taupo couple by a family member as a Christmas gift.
The couple said in a statement that they planned to travel to Tauranga to tell the ticket buyer of their windfall and to offer to pay off the person's mortgage.
The wife said she had been having a bad day on Sunday and decided to check their tickets in the hope it might make the day a little brighter.
"I checked the two we'd bought first - no luck. Then I checked the ticket a relative sent us for Christmas. When I realised we had all the numbers I gasped and checked the line again, and again, and again. Then ran outside to find my husband.
"Neither of us could believe it - a million dollars! We were a bag of nerves for the rest of the evening.
"Since we couldn't think straight we knew cooking dinner wasn't an option - so we celebrated the win with fish 'n' chips!"
Lotto spokeswoman Kirsten McConchie told the Bay of Plenty Times the middle-aged couple were "very, very excited".
The couple declined to give further comment and asked for privacy as they got to grips with their windfall. They claimed their ticket on Sunday.
Ms McConchie said the couple had not yet told the person who bought their ticket, and were "very excited" at the thought of breaking the news.
The last big winner to win first division from a gifted ticket was in 2008 when a Kaitangata woman won a $1.2 million share of the division.
Bayfair Lotto owner Maurice Parker said he was surprised to learn he had sold two first division winning tickets in less than a month. Mr Parker said staff were run off their feet in the lead-up to Christmas: "We had three machines going full time the week before Christmas.
"It was horrendous. I couldn't say if it was hundreds or thousands but it was certainly a lot [of people]."
Mr Parker said he had not heard of other Lotto outlets selling two first division-winning tickets in such a short time.
"It must make us pretty lucky," Mr Parker said.
The first division winning ticket was the third to be won in the Tauranga area this month, and the second of those tickets to be sold from Bayfair Lotto.
On December 7, a ticket bought from Bayfair Lotto won $1 million in the lottery's first-division prize pool. On December 22, a Tauranga syndicate of work colleagues won $333,000 as part of their share of a first-division prize.
In January this year, Lotto named Bayfair Lotto as the region's luckiest, based on the most winning tickets sold.
The store sold a total of 51,224 winning tickets last year, equating to winnings of $905,460.
Yesterday, it was announced a ticket bought from Cambridge Heights Foodmarket, Tauranga, was one of 25 to win second division, giving the winners $14,763 each.
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