Lotto NZ has announced that ticket sales are on track to reach record levels for tonight's historic $50 million Powerball Must Be Won Draw.
More than 1.3 million tickets have already been sold for the largest Powerball jackpot in history and Lotto NZ expects this to climb to around 2.5 million tickets entered for tonight's Must Be Won Draw.
Saturday is typically the biggest day for ticket sales and with $50 million up for grabs tonight, Lotto NZ is expecting a busy day in stores around New Zealand.
"There is an incredible buzz around the country as Lotto players from all over New Zealand get a ticket for the largest draw in Lotto history," says Marie Winfield, Head of Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Lotto NZ.
"There are already 1.3 million tickets in to win with tonight's draw – 1 million more than we have usually sold at the same point with a $5 million jackpot. That's a massive 300% increase – and the day's not over yet!
"Lotto NZ recommends that anyone who wants to be in to win for tonight's draw gets their ticket early to avoid the queues. We wish everyone around the country the best of luck for tonight's draw."
The current record for tickets entered into a single draw in Lotto history took place in July 2016 when 2.4 million tickets were sold for the $40 million Must Be Won Draw.
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Many people have been flocking to their local supermarket to purchase water and other essentials after New Zealand's first confirmed case of coronavirus, but there were also many lining up for Lotto, in a bid to win the largest Powerball in history.
The line for Lotto stretched for about a dozen people at Pak'nSave Wairau, all vying for the magic ticket to bag $50 million tonight.
However, all the focus was on the commotion around them as people continued to stream through the doors into the supermarket.
"It's hectic," one man in the Lotto line said. "I don't know what all the fuss is about; it's one case of the virus."
Another man said it was "utter madness".
The woman behind the Lotto counter said she had worked at Pak'nSave Wairau for 11 years but never in all her years seen anything like it.
"When I got to work at 10 to 7 this morning there were 200 people waiting outside," she said.
"It doesn't even get this bad at Christmas."
The first Powerball win came in June 2001 when a Northland player won $8 million after purchasing their ticket at Shell NZ Limited (Kensington).
The most recent Powerball win came on 28 December when a South Island player won $17.1 million after purchasing their ticket from The Market Store in Twizel.
In 2019, a total of $200 million was won on First Division Powerball – shared by 16 winners around New Zealand.
Marie Winfield, head of communications and corporate social responsibility at Lotto NZ, said Lotto NZ was looking forward to welcoming the next Powerball winner or winners this week.
"It is amazing to think that 184 Kiwis have become multi-millionaires with Powerball – and at least one, if not more people, will be joining them on Saturday," she said.
"We have been telling everyone to get in early to get their tickets as there is unprecedented demand for our first ever $50 million Must Be Won Powerball draw."
The largest win in Powerball history came in November 2016 when an Auckland couple claimed $44 million.