Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

$13 million Lotto win - 'I thought she was pregnant'

When his wife "hollered" at him from the living room on Saturday night, a Dunedin man thought she was pregnant.

Turns out they'd just won $13.3 million.

The Dunedin couple, who wish to remain anonymous, were one of three Lotto players who won a share of Powerball's $40 million Must Be Won draw.

"I was watching the live Lotto draw, and circled all of our winning numbers - including the Powerball," said the winning woman. "I was so excited, I didn't know what to do. My husband was in the other room so I hollered out to him."

"My first thought was 'oh no, I bet she's pregnant'," her husband said.

But even when his wife showed him the Lotto ticket and the winning numbers, he still didn't believe that they'd won. So they phoned friends to come over to help them check the ticket again. "Everyone was saying 'yes, you've won', but he still didn't believe it," the winner said.

I was so excited, I didn't know what to do. My husband was in the other room so I hollered out to him.

"Even when we found out that the winning ticket had been bought from Pak'nSave Dunedin, which is where we bought our ticket from, he was like 'nah, no way'."

The winners decided to ask around their friends to see if there was any other way they could check their ticket. They even managed to convince Fresh Choice Supermarket in Dunedin to open late so they could check their ticket.

"The Lotto lady had to get out of bed to come down and help check the ticket for us. It wasn't until the Lotto machine made the winning noise and we saw the prize claim receipt that he finally believed it," the winner said.

"I have a copy of the claim receipt with $13,368,688 written on it," her husband said. "I pulled it out of my pocket to look at about 100 times yesterday."

"As for the winning ticket, I kept it in my undies draw until we had to bring it up to Auckland to collect our prize. No one would ever go looking in there," he said.

"It's funny because I was in my man cave out the back of the house a couple of weeks ago with my buddy and we were talking about what we'd do if we won Lotto - we were talking about bikes, muscle cars, houses.

"It's amazing to think I can do all that now if I want to.

"At one point we were talking about buying a whole street of houses and getting all of our mates to move in. I'm not sure I'll do that though."

After checking their ticket late on Saturday night, the couple flew up to Auckland to claim their prize in person at Lotto NZ's head office first thing this morning.

"To win this amount of money is incredible and we keep thinking about how we'll be able to help people out with our winnings. We feel so incredibly lucky.

"But we'll stay the same people. In fact, I think we might go out for burgers tonight to celebrate," the winner said.

On Saturday, the $40 million Powerball First Division prize pool rolled down to Second Division, where there were three winners, who won $13,368,688 each.

The other two winning tickets were bought from Oparau Roadhouse in Te Awamutu and on MyLotto to a player in Hamilton - the winners are still outstanding.

The big win and exactly who's been lucky enough to pocket $13 million is all the locals are talking about in Kawhia.

Kylie Cederman, who used to work at the roadhouse, says every time they see another local they're asking them if they won.

"You can't pass anyone without them saying 'have you heard?' I just hope whoever wins it, it's going to change their life. It's going to be fantastic."

The General Store owner John Clark says it will be pretty obvious if it's a local because they'll probably be sporting a new car or boat.

"Oh yeah, everybody's talking about it, 'was it you? Was it me or was it a neighbour?'"

He says all of his customers are also talking about it, creating quite a buzz in the town.
However the streets were pretty quiet this morning, and despite being school holidays, there were only a handful of people out and about.

Another local, who only wanted to be known as John, still hasn't checked either of his two tickets. He says he and his wife just want to "live in the dream" for a few more days that they could be sitting on a colossal fortune.

"It's just a lovely dream. But I do hope that whoever wins it is somebody local. We're just waiting for the party to start somewhere, then we'll know."

Bill and Brenda Rogers say they've been flat out either answering calls from media or questions from curious locals who are popping in to see if the ticket has been claimed yet.

However it wasn't the only strike of luck they had on Saturday - they got a phone call about 3pm to say they'd sold a $200,000 prize on a $10 scratchie.

"We're just so ecstatic," Mr Rogers says. "And it's our first, first division prize that we've sold too."

It was also the first time they'd sold the top prize in a scratchie ticket.

He says they were preparing for bed when they got a phone call about 8.50pm from their local Lotto representative to say they'd sold a first division ticket.

"She was so excited herself," Mrs Rogers says. "She couldn't believe that we had sold two major winners in one day which is unusual and the first time since she's been with Lotto."

The couple say they've been told they will get a call as soon as the ticket has been claimed.

Mr Rogers says the win boosted turnover on Sunday as curious customers continued pouring in.

"We had a lot of people coming in just being nosey."

The double big win was a bonus as they had just decided to sell the business which they had spent the last 26 years building up.

What began from humble beginnings in their house bus to now which was built on donations of materials and volunteering of labour from locals and tourists around at the time of their three major builds and extensions.

Mr Rogers says he's been humbled to take out awards over the years - 2012 Otorohanga best business award and Lotto's best retailer award.

"We have no population and only transient customers, walk in traffic. We do $1,125million in turnover so to build something in the middle of nowhere and make it survive is a major feat in itself."

Oparau is exactly 54km from both Otorohanga and Te Awamutu and just 12km from Kawhia.

Mrs Rogers says she's just happy to be still owning the store when it sold its first big win.

As for why they're selling, Mr Rogers says it was due to him suffering a "men's health issue" last year.

"It's the men's problem, the prostate, and I found out just before Christmas that the operation was going to be in January," he says.

"It made him realise that there's more to life," Mrs Rogers says.

The property comes complete with the roadhouse, its accommodation and stock; two other houses, petrol station, Lotto, all on top of three and a half acres.

It will go for tender in September but they'll look at any offers before then.

"If we can't get our money then we just wait till we do. We're not in a hurry."

- NZ Herald

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