Ben Hill is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

A proposal, a birthday, a house fire and a Lotto win

Photo of the winning ticket that Paul and Lucy won Lotto first division and $142,857 with, 24 hours after they became engaged and the night after their house nearly burned down. Photo / Supplied
Photo of the winning ticket that Paul and Lucy won Lotto first division and $142,857 with, 24 hours after they became engaged and the night after their house nearly burned down. Photo / Supplied

Imagine getting engaged to the love of your life, having your house nearly burn down and winning Lotto on your birthday - all within 24 hours.

For one half of an Auckland couple that incredible series of events became reality, when the pair sat down in their fire-damaged lounge and watched on TV as their ticket won the newly engaged pair $142,857 in Lotto first division.

Paul and Lucy, who asked for their surnames not to be used, got engaged on a Friday night, when Paul proposed during dinner at the Sky Tower on the day before Lucy's birthday on July 9.

The couple then drove to Paul's house in the Coromandel to see his parents and show them the ring. On the way, Lucy decided to act on a strange hunch she had been feeling all week.

"For some reason I had a really strong feeling that the winning Lotto ticket was going to be sold at Papakura.

I was even telling my workmates," she said.

"I couldn't stop talking about it all week and on the way down I turned off to go to Papakura, and Paul just went 'Oh my God'."

Once they had picked up the ticket - their third in that weekend's mammoth $40 million Powerball draw - and a "bit hungover" from celebrating the night before, the pair went to bed.

The excitement of the proposal quickly turned to panic, when they woke in the middle of the night to thick smoke filling the downstairs part of the house.

"I looked at Paul and he was standing there like a stunned mullet, so I ran to try to find some water. I grabbed a bin-liner out of the bathroom and raced back and forth four times to put it out."

The house was badly smoke-damaged, and the fire had burned through the floorboards.

The cause of the blaze is not known.

Lucy called her mum to deliver the news, and joked that the next time she called it would be because she had won Lotto.

Little did she know that was exactly the next call she would make.

"Here I was on my birthday, hungover and sitting in a house that stunk like smoke; we were just thanking our lucky stars that it hadn't been worse."

Luckily the Lotto ticket survived the fire and the couple sat down to watch that night's draw.

"It took 20 minutes to convince Paul that we'd won. So much had gone on, we really just couldn't believe it at all."

Two of the seven tickets that ended up winning first division were sold in Papakura.

"Normally we wouldn't tell people about this sort of thing but it's just so crazy, you really couldn't make it up. It's just madness."

Lucy said the big win had only just sunk in for them and they planned to spend the money on repairing their house and on their wedding in Nelson early next year.

"I told Paul he was lucky he put a ring on it when he did, as I was the one who bought the winning ticket and put out the fire.

"I'm quite the good luck charm, really."

- Herald on Sunday

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