What to do if you win Lotto

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 08:02 12/09/2012

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Get a good lawyer, keep your head and don't forget to have some fun.

That's the advice ahead of tonight's Big Wednesday lotto draw from a Masterton woman who won a share of $36.9 million.

"I honestly don't think it's changed our lives. We're the same people that we were before," Fiona Wilton said.

Tonight's Big Wednesday jackpot is worth $27m, making it the third biggest prize in Lotto history. NZ Lotteries spokeswoman Karen Jones said if the prize was not claimed it would jackpot to a must-win $30m.

There was already a high level of interest in today's draw, she said. Last week about $10m worth of tickets were sold, compared with average sales of $2m.

The largest Big Wednesday prize was won in 2009, when a Masterton family syndicate claimed $36.9m. It remains the biggest win in New Zealand history.

Calling themselves Irish Luck - comprising Margaret Heaney, her daughters Siobhan Logan and Fiona, and granddaughter Alicia Hean - the syndicate gave significant amounts to charity.

It contributed $1.5m for a state- of-the-art ambulance and hospital equipment to Wairarapa District Health Board.

Mrs Heaney died in 2010, aged 74.

Ms Wilton's advice was simple: "Get a good lawyer and accountant, and invest it wisely."

Ms Wilton, who still works as a nurse and paramedic, said most of her share was in trusts. Some people tried to request money, but lawyers held the purse strings.

She kept a little cash aside for treats, including an annual trip. "It's important to have some fun, because you never know how long you'll be around."

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- The Dominion Post

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