Auckland man buys 10 Powerball tickets for US mega-draw

By Patrice Dougan, Tess Nichol

Mr Lonergan owns Duco Events, an Auckland-based promotions company. Photo / Doug Sherring
Mr Lonergan owns Duco Events, an Auckland-based promotions company. Photo / Doug Sherring

An Auckland man on holiday in Los Angeles could be the winner of the record $2.3 billion US lottery draw -- but he won't know until tomorrow.

Dean Lonergan, who is in the United States with his son on a belated Christmas holiday, bought 10 Powerball tickets for this evening's [NZT] lottery draw, which has a top prize of US$1.5 billion ($2.3 billion).

READ MORE: US$1.5 billion lottery jackpot - everything you need to know

But speaking to the Herald from LA just 15 minutes after the winning numbers were announced, Mr Lonergan said he was in no rush to check his tickets.

"I don't know [if I've won]," he said. "I haven't even seen the draw.

"I'll check them tomorrow. I've got my fingers crossed."

The winning numbers were 4, 8, 19, 27, 34, and the Powerball was 10.

But Mr Lonergan said he was not feeling compelled to see if he had been lucky.

"One chance, or 10 chances, in 292 million -- I'm not holding my breath."

Earlier, Mr Lonergan, who owns Auckland-based promotions company Duco Events, said he was not usually a lottery player, but the lure of such a huge prize was too much to resist.

He had been pestered by friends and family in New Zealand to buy them a ticket, Mr Lonergan said, but he had turned them down on the grounds that if they did win, who was entitled to the money could come into question.

All 10 tickets he bought were for himself, but Mr Lonergan said if one was a winner those closest to him could expect to reap some of the reward.

"Given one of the people who asked me to buy them a ticket was my dad, I'm sure if I won I could flick off a hundred million to him," he joked.

The enormous Powerball jackpot was the world's largest prize and the biggest news story in Los Angeles, Mr Lonergan said.

"Every time you turn on the news it's one of the lead stories, it's through the papers, is all online on every website. It's probably the biggest story in the United States right now."

On the street too, people couldn't stop talking about the chance to win the enormous sum.

"It's certainly spiked the nation's curiosity. I've seen news broadcasts showing people have queued for hours just to buy a ticket. It's crazy."

Mr Lonergan bought his ticket at an automated machine which he said was unable to display the total of the prize because it was simply too large.

"The machine I was on only went to $999 million. The machine couldn't register a prize so big.

"I hope I don't get short-changed if I win," he joked.

Kiwis in New Zealand were not officially able to buy themselves a ticket.

Across the ditch, Australians were a little luckier, with Lottoland securing a five-year licence by the Northern Territory Racing Commission to give online gambling the green light in international lotteries, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Australians could take a punt on the draw through a betting system, but Lottoland assured players on their website that: "Rest assured your winnings will be the same as if you had entered it for real."

However, Powerball's website said if you are not buying from a licensed retailer in the state, or from the official state lottery site open only to people in the US, "then you should not expect to be able to collect your prize".

Other foreign websites have emerged claiming to allow foreigners to purchase tickets but the legitimacy of these is questionable.

Lotto New Zealand said it could not comment on the US lottery draw or sites claiming to purchase tickets for the record jackpot, but said: "We can confirm that the only website authorised to sell tickets for our games is our official website,

"MyLotto enables individuals with a New Zealand bank account to purchase tickets for many of our games," a spokeswoman said. "To ensure the validity of tickets we recommend players do not purchase tickets through any website other than MyLotto."

- NZ Herald

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