Winner delighted with Lotto 'loot'

A BIT OF GOOD LUCK: Gary Warner.
A BIT OF GOOD LUCK: Gary Warner.

Most first division Lotto winners shy away from talking publicly about their luck. But Murchison's Gary Warner doesn't mind.

"People are going to find out sooner or later, aren't they?" the 64-year-old says from his council flat in Murchison. "Once you see how many people won, you think, ‘What the hell. It's no big deal'."

Besides, after battling aggressive prostate cancer and the recent death of his mum, he reckons "it's about time I won some loot and had a bit of luck".

The ex-navy chef was one of five first division winners last Saturday, netting a $207,395 prize.

As a pensioner, the money would come in handy, he said. He was not planning to do anything rash, but was looking forward to a trip to Anchorage, Alaska next year to visit an old friend.

Mr Warner said he was not fazed about sharing the first division prize with others, as $200,000 was "nothing to be sniffed at".

"I can afford new tyres for the front of my car now. My mum passed away about three months ago, and that sort of costs you money. What with petrol going up and registration, you don't get much left out of your pension."

Mr Warner shares his flat with eight adult and two baby cockatiels.

He has a bad back - with metal implants in his back after falling out of his bunk during a typhoon when he was in the navy. He also had a bike accident.

Apart from the Alaska trip, he is planning to put the money into Bonus Bonds until he needs it.

Mr Warner has a comfortable 1992 Mercedes station wagon, which he will keep.

He will not be having a few drinks to celebrate, either. He gave up drinking alcohol after the side-effects of the cancer drugs he was on made beer taste nasty.

Mr Warner said he was still dealing with the effects of cancer treatment, including cold sweats.

"People think once you've had treatment, everything is tickety-boo, but you've got to deal with the after-affects."

He said he dealt with the aggressive cancer head on, which he believed helped his recovery.

"I thought, ‘OK, let's deal with it'. Some people get depressed, but what's the point? You've just got to deal with it."

A regular Lotto player, Mr Warner bought his winning ticket on a whim last Friday afternoon after popping down to the Murchison Four Square. He was cooking, and needed some extra ingredients. He discovered he had "just enough change" for the Lucky Dip Combo ticket.

He watched the Lotto draw live on Saturday night but did not immediately realise that he had won first division.

"When I first checked the ticket, I was getting a bit tired, and I thought I only had five numbers.

"It was only after I got up to make a cup of tea and checked the numbers again that I realised I'd won a lot more."

He put the ticket in a drawer, and went back to the Four Square on Sunday to get it validated.

"It was on its way to Wellington on Sunday afternoon."

This is not Mr Warner's first brush with Lotto luck. He won $17,444 in Australia two years ago.

His first division win is the second significant win for Murchison Four Square in the past few weeks.

The store sold a second division winning ticket worth $13,169 for the draw on June 22.

"It is very exciting. Gary is a regular customer, and I actually sold him his ticket," said Murchison Four Square Lotto manager Kiran Patel.

"We're really pleased for him, and glad that it went to a Murchison local.

"This is the first Lotto first division win for the store but we seem to be having a lucky streak at the moment, following the second division win a few weeks ago."