Whispers of Big Wednesday winner

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 16:50 26/04/2013

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The mystery holder of Dannevirke's $14.1 million Lotto ticket should keep their head down to avoid small-town vultures, a local Lotto winner believes.

Whispers about the identity of the winner of the Big Wednesday jackpot have been circulating around the Tararua town, but the ticket-holder has been laying low.

The prize for the ticket sold at Blockbuster video store on High St had yet to be claimed on Friday night.

Woodville man Errol Ireland and his wife Jenny collected $100,000 on Lotto's winning wheel in February 2011, and were delighted to hear that another Tararua town was back in the spotlight.

More than two years on from their win, Mr Ireland said that if he had won the $14.1 million he would also be keeping it pretty quiet.

''Once people know you've won, we found you get these people ringing you.  And ours was only $100,000.

''I'd recommend the winner gets some advice on what to do from Lotto, who are great, and just watch out for the vultures.

''They're the people you will least expect who come round and ask for a handout.''

The Ireland's bought a $60,000 campervan with the money.

''I just hope this winner is someone who needs it and that they get to do what they want to do with it.

''If they're broke in 10 years, who gives a shit,'' Mr Ireland said.

NZ Lotteries spokeswoman Emilia Mazur said small-town winners had to be extra careful who they told about their circumstances.

''We tell all our winners to decide who they're going to tell before they tell them.

''Once you have told someone you can't un-tell them.

''If you tell a few people in a small town, with the way they are, it's more likely everyone will find out.''

Ms Mazur said Lotto helped people from small towns set up a bank account so they did not have to go into the local teller.

They also gave advice about the things to spend it on.

''If you don't want people in a small town to find out, maybe don't buy anything flashy.

''We can't recommend people not to take the Lamborghini [which is part of the Big Wednesday prize] but have a bit of a think about whether that will draw attention to you.''

Not many big Lotto jackpot winners went public and it was particularly rare in small towns - with the exception of former Te Kauwhata man Trevor Cooper who toasted the media with his $26.5 million Powerball win in 2012.

The experience of ''seeing your face on the front page of the paper'' was something they would coach a winner through if they chose to go public, Ms Mazur said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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