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May 20, 2013 | by  | in Features |
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What Would You Do?

Since leaving high school three years ago, 19-year-old Ben* has worked full-time at a café in Lower Hutt, struggling to pay off his car and living “off the skin of his arse”. But two weeks ago, Ben bought a couple of $5 Space Invader scratchies and his life changed forever. Salient Chief Reporter Phillipa Webb spoke to Ben about the ups and downs of winning $100,000…


When did you buy the ticket?

I was at Lower Hutt New World two weeks ago, and I needed $20 cash out and a $5 note to give to a friend. So I thought, “Aw stuff it, I’ll go buy a couple of scratchies”. So I bought a couple of the new Space Invader scratchies and when I got home, I sat on the couch and had a bit of a scratch and found out I’d won $100,000.

Do you usually buy tickets, or was it a one-off?

Yeah I usually do, maybe one or two every two weeks.

How did you react when you found out?

I was completely speechless. I yelled to my flatmate while he was on the phone to his mum and I was like, “Hey man I think I just won”. Then he asked where I’d bought it from, thinking I’d bought it from some dodgy guy on the street.

Did you tell anyone?

Once I figured out what I was roughly doing with it, I just told whoever I wanted and didn’t really care. But the first couple of days I kept it pretty d-low.

What did you do with the money once you got it?

The Lotto guy told me it would take seven to ten days to go into my account but it took literally 36 hours. So I just decided to check my account a few days later and it was there.

How did you feel when you saw the money in your account?

I just slammed my laptop shut and just walked away—I didn’t want to see it.

What did the Lotteries Commission tell you to do?

They were lovely. I had a talk to them when I first won and then a week later I got this little care package thing that had a book on how to deal with winning Lotto. It just talks about the decisions you’re now faced with, and they offer some advice like investing in a house, encouraging you to go travelling and enrol in tertiary study—stuff like that. Rather than just blow it on a Lamborghini.

What have people’s reactions been; has anyone been bitter or angry?

Well my stepmum was like, “Well we’ve been playing bloody scratchie tickets for years”, so she was pretty cut up about it. But apart from that everyone else has been pretty happy for me.

Since people found out, have you got more attention?

I haven’t noticed it, to be honest. But I really hope that doesn’t change. Put it this way—old high-school friends haven’t made contact with me since they’ve found out. No one has really become my friend because of it. But I have been really paranoid about that.

Have people asked you for money?

Nah not at all. I was quite selective about the different people that I told.

Did you give any to charity?

No I haven’t. I’ve thought about it, but I’m still settling in and don’t quite believe it’s all happened yet.

Has it felt different to how you imagined?

Yeah definitely. I’ve sat there and done scratchies before and thought to myself, “Yeah if I won I’d go and do this”, but then as soon as I won, it wasn’t like that at all. I was more freaked out than anything.

Were you overwhelmed?

Yes, very. It’s such a large sum of money. Before, I was living on the bones of my arse pretty much, and to suddenly be given that, it’s
quite overwhelming.

Did it change the way you felt about money?

I’d like to say no, but in real subtle ways it does. For example I take price tags for granted—I needed to buy a new jersey and instead of going, ‘Oh shit that’s $100’ it was like, ‘Meh that’s $100’. But I don’t really want to have that attitude at all.

Has it changed your life plans?

I’m still working it out. I’m taking a couple of months off work and I’m going to look into tertiary study and maybe overseas travelling.

Have you got out wads of cash and thrown it in the air?

Haha, not really. I joked with my mum that I’d change the money into ten-cent pieces so I’d technically be a millionaire in ten-cent pieces and fill my house with them. She said, “Don’t be a dick”.

What was your mum’s reaction to the win?

She was pretty happy, but the first proper thing she said was, ‘Oh yus it’s Mother’s Day in two weeks’. But I got her an iPad for Mother’s Day which was quite nice.

Do you still buy Lotto tickets?

I bought an Instant Kiwi just for the hell of it and won nothing on it, so I was just like, “Nah my luck’s run out”.

What would you be doing now if you hadn’t won?

Still paying off the $600 I owed on my car. But I mean I’m still doing the exact same thing I was two weeks ago, it’s just it’s a lot less stressful knowing that I’ve paid off the bills that I had, and can pay back the people that I owe.

Had you already imagined what you’d do if you won? Did you end up doing that?

Not really. As I said, you think you’ll go out and buy a car or something, but it’s actually quite eye-opening. I’m a generally sensible person but this has just made me realise how sensible I can be with money. I’ve set up a term-deposit account so I’ve locked most of it away so I can’t really blow it. So I just left myself with a smaller amount to blow.

How much of the original win do you have left?

A good 95 per cent if you wanna do the math.

What do you plan to do with it?

All pretty vague at the moment. I’d like to take my girlfriend over to Rarotonga in the next couple of months, so that’s on the cards. But after that, not really; I’ve thought about investing in a house but that might be in the next couple of years.

After winning such a big sum, do you have any budget?

It’s a bit here-and-there at the moment. I’ve set up all these different accounts and I’m not being frugal but I’m not being crazy. I’m still working so I’ve still got that income, so I’m still living off what I was except I’ve got a six-figure sum sitting in my back account. But I still try and shop smart and look for the deals—I still use my Onecard at Countdown.

Do you have a message to future Lotto winners?

It’s not what it’s cracked up to be and it’s never gonna be how you imagined it to be.


*Name has been changed for privacy.

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