Single lotto winner in Pokeno scores $42m jackpot

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Single lotto winner in Pokeno scores $42m jackpot
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One ticketholder is waking up this morning as an overnight multi-millionaire after winning last night's mammoth $42 million Lotto Powerball jackpot.

A lot of other Kiwis are waking up wondering if they won even a few dollars after the Lotto app and website were hit by technical issues - caused by the massive surge in players trying to check their tickets.

On Wednesday, one lucky Powerball player won $42.2million, the second biggest win in Lotto history.

The winning ticket was bought in the small Waikato town of Pokeno, near the southern border of Auckland.

While that person most likely celebrated into the night, thousands of other Kiwis were left in the dark about their own results, as Lotto's app and website came under heavy strain.

The app had still not recovered this morning, with a notice saying it was "currently unavailable" and pointing people to the website. But users who headed there received a message saying, "Sorry we're currently closed".

"We know you can't wait to see if you're a winner! Due to high demand, MyLotto will be opening later today, please come back later to check your ticket. Sorry for the inconvenience," the website said.

The Lotto website was still not operating this morning. 

The issues come after the app and website were groaning last night under the strain of customers trying to check their online tickets, with some players unable to log in to their accounts.

It got to a point last night when Lotto suggested its customers should check their online ticket today as they are "experiencing high demand".

"Please bear with us or check your tickets in the morning," Lotto said in a statement on Facebook.

"We're currently experiencing issues for players trying to top up, we're working as quickly as we can to try and fix this. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Lotto NZ released a statement on social media last night apologising that some players may have experienced issues when trying to top up or buy their tickets.

Customers who tried to top up but weren't successful will have their funds returned to their bank account.

"During high jackpots we always encourage players to buy their tickets early to avoid our busiest times. We will continue to update you as we know more."

Punters however weren't impressed.

"There's never been these kinds of holdups/delays/queues in the past when trying to check online tickets. Maybe it's because there are a lot more checking with such a big prize, however if you're going to promote online buying, then you need the resources (server "speed" or whatever technical thingy it is) to deliver," said one person on the Lotto Facebook page.

Another punter expressed the frustration of many: "My question is I bought a ticket on the app at 7pm, 30 minutes before it closed and it took the money out straight away," they wrote on Lotto's Facebook page. "But I have no ticket, am I still going to get a ticket?

"I don't want a refunded ticket for the next draw or my money to buy again another time, I wanted a ticket for this draw only. I rarely buy lotto and when i do it's for a big draw because that's when I'm willing to spend money. Can I have my ticket please and thank you."

The winning ticket was sold at Countdown Pokeno - a town with a population of 3320, 5km from Mercer, and currently in level-3 restrictions.

Waikato District councillor for the Awaroa ki Tuakau ward Jacqui Church was ecstatic to hear a ticket sold in Pokeno had won big.

Church said it was a nice piece of news as the region remained at alert level 3.

"People are really suffering in their home so if someone in Pokeno's won the big one that's such good news."

Church hopes the news will boost the community's morale - and that's certainly the mood on the Pokeno Facebook community page tonight. "Oh wow little old Pokeno," one shocked local said.

Once famous as a State Highway 1 stop-off for ice creams and bacon, Pokeno is now bypassed by the Waikato Expressway leading into Auckland - but it has become an area for new builds and slightly more affordable housing.

Its average house price is $1.076 million, according to this week's OneRoof property guide.

"Someone brought home the bacon tonight congrats to the winner," a person wrote on a Lotto Facebook post.

The $42.2 million prize is made up of $42 million from Powerball First Division and $200,000 from Lotto First Division.

Four other Lotto players will also be celebrating after each winning $200,000 with Lotto First Division - the tickets were sold in Whangaparaoa, Drury, New Plymouth and Christchurch.

The largest-ever Lotto prize in New Zealand was a $44 million Powerball jackpot won by a young couple from the Hibiscus Coast in November 2016.

"Wednesday's $42 million Powerball jackpot is one of the largest prizes ever on offer in New Zealand, it's one for the Lotto NZ history books," said senior corporate communications manager Kirsten Robinson.

Some 1.5 million tickets were purchased for last Saturday's $35 million Powerball draw, which did not see a winner.

While players have been undoubtedly pumped about the prospect of a life-changing win, level 3 lockdown restrictions mean many retailers are missing out on sales that could get them through the year.

Under level 3 restrictions Lotto outlets in essential services like supermarkets and dairies can open, provided they can meet the health and safety guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health. Outlets in malls or other non-essential stores are unable to open.

A former store owner said big draws were the "lifeline" of Lotto shops so missing out on a share of the action was devastating for many.

"The bigger it gets, the more of a frenzy that occurs because it doesn't happen that often. Lotto often gets won at $10m, $12m or $20m but when it gets this high it creates such a frenzy and that's when the Lotto shops will actually make money.

"So retailers wait, sometimes years, for draws like this to happen," she said.

"If it gets to $50 million it will go absolutely bonkers."

The woman, who owned a Lotto store for 20 years, said the hype created by such large draws lasted for weeks and was what retailers waited for to get them through the year.

Once the prize pool reached the $50m limit at which it must be won, retailers made thousands of dollars more in commission than they usually would, she said.

"For retailers, it is so incredibly important. It's literally thousands of dollars that are used to pay wages, rent and expenses over the coming months when things quieten down after the prize gets won."

Largest Powerball wins of all time

November 2016 - $44 million, Dairy Flat Food Mart and Liquor, Auckland

October 2021 - $42.2 million, Pokeno Countdown

September 2013 - $33 million, One Step Ahead, Auckland

September 2017 - $30 million, Richmond Superette, Taupo

October 2010, $28 million, Mobil Papakura, Auckland

May 2017- $27 million, Martina Four Square, Thames

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