Winner's hard times over

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 12/03/2014

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The hard times are over for a Christchurch man who has pocketed $5 million in Lotto winnings.

The man, who is in his 50s and wants to remain anonymous, will donate some of his money to charity after several tough years living in the earthquake red zone, battling health woes and struggling to pay the bills.

He said he hit rock bottom when he could not afford to pay for a bus ticket to attend a job interview.

Now he plans to build his first home.

"I've been through quite a few hard times," he said.

The ticket was bought from Redwood Mini Market for March 1 draw, but was not claimed for more than a week.

He had read about the unclaimed prize in the paper.

"I thought to myself ‘yeah, it would be good to win Lotto', but of course, I didn't really think it was me."

He had the ticket tucked into his wallet.

"Eventually I popped into the store and thought, ‘I really should check my ticket'. And sure enough, the machine flashed ‘major prize winner'.

"I got pins and needles all over my whole body."

He was a "little bit" late to work that day and has since decided to quit the job.

"This will set me up for the rest of my life."

For the past couple of years, the tradesman has bounced between friends' couches and rental properties, with health issues curbing his ability to work.

He plans to put most of his winnings in the bank and live off the interest.

"I'm in no hurry to do anything [with the money]."

He would build a home for himself, buy his brother's family a house, set up a trust fund for his two nephews, pay medical bills and buy a classic car - he has not owned a car in years.

He hoped to donate about $10,000 to the Salvation Army and to a church group that helped when he was forced to move from his rental home in the red zone and lost his job.

"I had nowhere to go," he said.

The winner said he would focus on his health and fighting his insurance company over a contents claim for his rental property when the earthquakes struck.

Other things on his winning ticket shopping list include a television and putting money aside to cover his funeral when the time came.

The total prize is made up of $4m from Powerball first division and $1 million from Lotto first division.

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- The Press

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