A Herald-DigiPoll survey has found that paying off the bills and' />

We all want to win it - but we're split on how to spend the big windfall.

A Herald-DigiPoll survey has found that paying off the bills and taking a holiday would be on the to-do list for many if they were lucky enough to win Lotto.

The poll, of 750 people, revealed a wide range in the things people would do, with the fantasy situation of quitting work and running off on a luxury holiday appearing to be down the bottom of the list.

But the survey also uncovered some would-be philanthropists, with 12.1 per cent saying they would start their own foundation or make a large donation.

Another 12 per cent said a win would give them freedom to do what they liked, while 8.1 per cent said they would use the money to pay off bills or a mortgage. Just 7.2 per cent said they would take an exotic vacation.

While it may seem unbelievable, there are real-life examples of multimillion-dollar prizes that have not significantly changed lives.

A Masterton family syndicate - comprising great-grandmother Margaret Heaney, her daughters Siobhan Logan and Fiona Wilton and granddaughter Alicia - who won $36.9 million in June last year changed little about their lives.

Other than buying a modest townhouse, Ms Wilton has continued working as a nurse. She and her mother, who died this month, donated $1.5 million to Wairarapa District Health Board for a state-of-the-art ambulance, hospital equipment and staff uniforms.

Ms Logan still works in a bakery.

The syndicate has also helped sick friends and family and set up a trust to benefit the Starship children's hospital, the Westpac rescue helicopters and Ronald McDonald House.

NZ Lotteries spokeswoman Karen Jones said the poll's findings backed up what was known about Kiwi winners.

"If people win $1 million, they tend to keep working. They might buy themselves a new car or bach or something like that. It's really only when they win over $10 million that it really alters their lives, and there's only a few prizes a year won that are over $10 million.

"The people who win $1 million say it makes their lives easier because it gives them choices, but they still want to keep working and do the things they've always done. It just gives them a lot more options in their life.

"We say don't do anything urgent because if you're used to working and you quit your job ... well, you still have to fill your days with something, so it's really important that you still keep your normal routines because otherwise all your friends will still be working."

A lot of people, such as Aucklander Helen Henderson - who, with husband Geoffrey, won $18 million in 2006 - ended up giving up paid work, instead spending their days working for charitable causes.

Mrs Henderson took on fundraising for the Starship.

"She gave up her day job but she still works," Ms Jones said.

"Ninety-nine per cent of our winners use it to pay off debt, help out family and enjoy life a bit more.

"There's very few who go nuts and lose it all, but financial freedom is what people want it for ... and to help out friends and family - absolutely."


The winner of a Lotto prize worth almost $13 million appeared last night to be still oblivious to the windfall.

The ticket, bought at Magascene in Takapuna on Auckland's North Shore, is worth $12,991,369 after the Christmas draw on Saturday.

NZ Lotteries spokeswoman Karen Jones said yesterday that no one had been in touch about the winning ticket.

"We haven't had any contact yet. It's still unclaimed. No phone call, no presentation, nothing. Maybe they're at the beach."

The win is made up of $12,658,036 from Powerball first division and $333,333 from Lotto first division.

Magascene is closed for the statutory holidays but is expected to reopen tomorrow. However, the winner can claim the prize at any Lotto outlet or the NZ Lotteries offices in Wellington.