If you thought this weekend’s Lotto fever was intense, then hold on to your hat because Powerball has rolled over to a record $44 million and must be won on Wednesday.
As the last, loneliest, luckiest ball is rolling down the chute to make someone very, very happy, the last polling booths will have just closed in the US state of Alaska – paving the way for a presidential election result that will inevitably make many people very, very unhappy. (Yes, we can work a US election reference into just about every story this weekend).
At that point in the evening, internet traffic and TV audiences are expected to go through the roof. Stuff editors expect a dramatic race: a final mad dash to the Lotto shop prior to the 8.30pm draw, returning in time to learn whether America was serious all these months about giving Donald Trump a whack at the White House.
So if the election makes you miserable, pin your hopes on Powerball – and like Donald Trump, you don’t even have to pay tax on your winnings.
Lotto NZ’s chief executive Wayne Pickup said the Powerball jackpot has never been bigger – and it must be won next week.
“With a ‘Must Be Won’ draw, we know that there is definitely going to be one or more winners this Wednesday and with a jackpot this size, the win is going to be life changing.”
He said in a “Must Be Won” draw, if no single ticket wins Powerball First Division the prize pool rolls down to the next highest division with winners.
In July, three players from Hamilton, Te Awamutu and Dunedin shared a “Must Be Won” Powerball jackpot of $40 million, taking home $13.3 million each.
As for Saturday night’s draw, two Lotto players from New Plymouth and Nelson will be celebrating tonight after winning $500,000 each with Lotto First Division.
The winning tickets were sold at Westown Lotto in New Plymouth and Whitcoulls Nelson in Nelson.
One lucky Strike player will also have reason to celebrate after winning $500,000 with Strike Four. The winning ticket was sold at Lotto ‘N’ Things in Oamaru.
Pickup said anyone who bought their ticket from any of the above locations should write their name on the back of the ticket and check it immediately at any Lotto outlet, online at mylotto.co.nz or through the Lotto NZ ticket-checker app.
So far in 2016, 31 Kiwis have become overnight Lotto millionaires, including the eight people who won big with Powerball first division.
These winners have joined the club of more than 770 Kiwis who have won $1m or more since Lotto began in 1987.
This year, two Powerball winners came from Dunedin and the remainder from Ashburton, Ohakune, Tauranga, Timaru, Hamilton and Kawhia.
Saturday night’s winning numbers were 24, 16, 3, 40, 11, 38 with a bonus ball of 35 and the Powerball wa