8 of the Biggest Ever Lottery Payouts in New Zealand
Winning the lottery is something most of us can only dream of. Seeing those numbers come up on the TV or on your phone, realising you’ve become an instant multi-millionaire and then immediately spilling your drink or falling off your chair isn’t a scene most of us will experience in our lifetimes.
But there are plenty of New Zealand lottery winners out there who have become millionaires overnight. Lotto New Zealand is the biggest lottery in the country and has been running since the late 1980s. The main game consists of six balls and a bonus ball, with odds of 38 million to one on you landing the betting jackpot.
Rollovers are common in New Zealand and who hasn’t bought a lottery ticket on the day when a big jackpot has grown to bursting point?
The Powerball is where all the attention rests when it comes to record NZ lottery wins. To win the Powerball you must win the Lotto First Division and nail the winning Powerball too on the same line. That’s not easy, and while many First Division winners become millionaires it’s nothing compared to the size of the Powerball payout.
So, who has struck luckier than most down the years? Let’s take a look at the eight biggest New Zealand lottery winners in history…
Biggest lottery wins in New Zealand
Before we reveal the eight biggest NZ Lotto winners, it’s worth remembering that as of 2017 the maximum jackpot win has been capped to $50m. When the rollover reaches this cap, the next draw is a “Must Be Won” event that will produce a jackpot winner. If there’s no First Division winner then the jackpot is split between Second Division winners.
8 - $30m – Won by a syndicate in Sept 2017
A syndicate organised by “Tina from Taupō” won a share of $30m back in 2017. The 10 women were all dental professionals and split the winnings equally, meaning they walked away with $3m apiece.
The syndicate had previously won $12,000 and had continued to play Lotto, with Tina purchasing 10-week blocks of tickets that everyone contributed to.
“No-one’s going to go ape-s*** over this… it's just giving us lovely freedom and choices,” she said.
“I love, love love my job, so will keep working, but I think I'll drop from three to two days a week.”
7 - $33m – Won by Aucklander in Oct 2013
Imagine driving and listening to the radio, when you hear a winning Lotto ticket was purchased in the same shop you bought yours. Would you check your numbers? This anonymous Aucklander in 2013 did… but only after he’d gone to the gym and completed his workout!
"I thought, 'well if I've just won $33 million I might not be able to concentrate on getting my exercise done afterwards', I guess I didn't really think it would be me.”
The $33m prize broke the New Zealand lotto record back in 2013 and is still the second-highest single-ticket jackpot in the game.
6 - $36.9m – Won by a syndicate in June 2009
2009 was a lucky year for Masterton. The district won on average $2116 per head that year on Lotto wins alone – and the biggest by far was the $36.9m scoop from a Big Wednesday jackpot, which came just 11 days after another $5.5m jackpot was won in the same area.
The winning family shared the prize money equally between them, and 72-year-old pensioner Margaret decided to donate the majority of her winnings to charity.
“I've had a lot out of life; it's time to give something back,” she said. “I don't need it [the money] at my age. Instead of putting it in a bucket with a bottomless hole, I can afford to give a lot more now.”
5 - $38m – Split between two winners in November 2017
Two winners – from Warkworth and Greytown respectively – were each handed $19m when they scooped the Powerball in November 2017. And there were four other First Division players who came within one number of earning a share of the jackpot themselves.
One of the winners duly quit his job working on the Puhoi motorway extension project.
“I handed over my ticket to the lady behind the counter and the words 'Congratulations, you are a First Division winner' flashed up on the screen,” he said. “I asked the lady 'what does this mean?' but the expression on her face gave it away — her eyes were wide and she had a massive grin on her face.
“When she told me I had won $19m, it was like it didn't even register.”
4 - $38m – Split between two winners in October 2019
Almost two years on from that $38m split another came along! This time it was two lucky Aucklanders who won the Powerball jackpot to each take home $19,142,857.
One of the winners bought her ticket just minutes before the draw.
“My husband turned to me at 7:22pm and said ‘we didn't get a Lotto ticket! You better race down to the dairy and pick one up’, but I knew there wouldn't be enough time – so I logged onto MyLotto instead,” she said.
“I hadn't bought a ticket on MyLotto in quite a while, so needed to find my card and top up my account – I was racing all over the house! I ended up clicking 'buy' with two minutes to spare.”
It turned out to be the second biggest Lotto win in New Zealand history… although this would be eventually beaten by an even bigger triumph!
3 - $44,066,667 – Won by a couple of the Hibiscus Coast in November 2016
The young Hibiscus Coast couple who won a fortune on the Powerball in November 2016 got heads turning across the country. This Lotto draw was bigger than anything else that had come before it and captured the imagination of everyone. Who didn’t buy a ticket that week in the lead-up to the draw?
The couple bought their ticket at Dairy Flat Food Mart and Liquor north of Auckland and initially resisted the urge to jet-set across the world with their newfound fortune.
“As soon as I saw I had all the numbers on one line I just yelled ‘holy s***’ – my boss thought I’d chopped my arm off with a saw,” said one of the winners. “As I was driving to the store, they were talking about the big win on the radio and I started screaming out ‘that’s me’.”
The husband revealed how they had been struggling to buy their first home but that Christmas that year would be a lot less stressful now they had money in the bank.
2 - $50m – Split between two winners in February 2020
Just a month before the world went into coronavirus lockdown two winners banked $25m apiece in the capped Powerball draw – the first to hit $50m. Winning tickets for the record-breaking draw were bought at Countdown Manukau City Mall and on the MyLotto app to a player from Auckland.
“I know it sounds cliché, but it has been absolutely life-changing for us,” said one of the winners. “I can do everything I had envisioned doing in my life now and it helps me to build a better future for my kids and family.”
It was the first time a “Must Be Won” draw had been made since 2016.
1 - $50m – Split between 10 lucky winners in August 2020
When no-one wins the First Division Powerball jackpot then the ultimate prize is split between Second Division winners – and this is what happened with the capped $50m pot in August 2020.
A total of 10 Second Division winners each walked home with $5m following the dramatic draw and subsequent wait for winners. In the hours leading up to the draw one player famously bought $2,000 worth of tickets.
There was a nervous wait for some app players who had to wait hours for the technology to be updated before they could check their numbers. Of the 10 winning tickets, five were purchased in Auckland.
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