The year has started off with a bang for a local Rotorua man who claimed a life-changing $8.5 million Powerball prize at Lotto NZ's Head Office this morning.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, watched the live draw last night and knew he was New Zealand's newest multimillionaire as soon as Powerball number 7 was drawn.
"I've been playing the same numbers since Lotto started, and I always watch the draw or record it," the man said.
"I was checking off my numbers as usual, and when the fifth and sixth balls came out, well that's when my heart really started to race.
"Then I was just praying for the Powerball to be 7, and when it was, I was so shocked. You never believe it's actually going to happen," he said.
"I felt numb, but my immediate thought was that I needed to call someone."
The man called his daughter to share the good news, but she didn't believe him at first.
"She kept saying 'are you sure?' I said 'yes, I've been playing these numbers for years … plus I've checked the ticket at least four times,'" he laughed.
"My granddaughter must've heard our conversation because she texted me after saying 'yahoo Papa!' Which made me smile."
Next, the man called his son to arrange claiming his huge windfall.
"Dad called me and asked if I was working in the morning – I said 'no, why?'" the man's son said.
"Then he said, 'well pick me up at six, we're going to Auckland, I've won Powerball.' I think I just responded with 'ay?'"
The pair laughed, elated by the news, and finalised plans for their early morning road trip.
"After I got off the phone with Dad, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face, I'm just so happy this has happened for him," he beamed.
With the win confirmed, the man is looking forward to celebrating with his family back in Rotorua and is already beginning to plan his future.
The man is planning to buy a house right on the lake, and with a love of fishing, it'll be the perfect spot.
"Walking into my back garden with my fishing rod and being able to throw out a line in will be a dream come true," said the man.
The winner has also set himself a personal goal to play golf at every golf course around New Zealand.
And of course, like all good grandfathers, he can't wait to spoil his grandchildren.
The winning ticket was sold at Western Heights Foodmarket, also known as Western Heights Four Square, on Brookland Rd.
Store owner Montu Kumar said he was excited when he found out about the win and hoped it was going to someone deserving.
"It's pretty exciting, it's been a long time that it came to our store and it feels good for the neighbourhood," he said.
"I totally hope it's a local, we have a lot of regulars who like to keep it local and go to their favourite store. This is a nice repayment for their loyalty."
He expected an increase in business following the win.
"A lot of people get excited and they want to go down to the lucky store. Hopefully, their luck comes in too, you never know, we might do it two weeks in a row.
"That would be amazing."
The store has sold four Lotto First Division winning tickets, a Strike First Division winner and a Bullseye First Division winner previously but never anything close to the $8.5 million in last night's draw.
"This is the big exciting one, you want to get the Powerball and it's a good number, $8.5 million. That's life-changing."
Last night's big score was the fourth Powerball win this year and comes two weeks after a player from Te Aroha won $4.5m.
A Lotto player who bought their ticket in Auckland will also be celebrating, after winning $500,000 with Lotto First Division.
The winning ticket was sold at Valley Road Superette.
Strike Four was won by two players from Napier and Invercargill who each took home $200,000.
The winning strike tickets were sold at Z Kennedy Rd in Napier and Windsor Stationery and Lotto in Invercargill.