'I'm excited about paying off my debt' - R70m Powerball winner

PHOTO: Getty Images
PHOTO: Getty Images

Imagine receiving an SMS from the bank informing you that you've won R70 million in the Lotto? This is exactly what happened to one extremely lucky Gauteng resident.

The man, who prefers to remain anonymous, says he's a regular Lotto player who started when the Lotto commenced 18 years ago.

"At the time, I wasn't regular, I didn't want to stand in queues but when you could play the lotto through FNB, it became easier," he says.

Over the years, the largest amount he'd ever won playing the lotto was R1 300, which he says was only last year. Perhaps this was the prelude to his next big win.

Just like he does every week, he spent R240 on his Quick Pick tickets through the FNB banking app on the January 12th draw.

The next day, he received an SMS from the bank.

'Is this not a scam?'

"I heard two messages coming in, one after the other, so I thought, 'Argh, it's a please call me'. I didn't even pay attention to it," he says.

When he finally did check his messages, the SMS read, 'You're the first tier winner of Powerball/Powerball Plus. An agent will contact you within two working days.'

"I thought, 'Really? Is this not a scam, is this really true?'"

He says he had a few errands to run and went about his day with this news lingering at the back of his mind, still thinking it might be a scam.

Still keeping it to himself, he decided to check his banking app again – checking the numbers he played against the winning numbers – and found that they indeed matched.

He was the sole winner of Powerball, while there were five winners for Powerball Plus.

He doesn't reveal who the first person he called was, only referring to him as his confidante.

"I phoned him and said, 'Chief, you need to come.' When he arrived, I said, 'There's this thing . . .' He couldn't believe it either. That night he called me saying he couldn't sleep, because he kept thinking is it really happening. We went to the Ithuba National Lottery offices on Monday and it was confirmed," he says.

Overwhelming feeling

The married father of three is dressed casually in a cap, golf shirt, shorts and sneakers. He likens the overwhelming feeling to receiving news of someone's passing.

"At first you can't believe it. Then the funeral preoccupies you, emotionally, you haven't dealt with it. It's only after the funeral when everyone is gone that you begin to feel the emotion," he says.

While it hasn't quite sunk in for the man, who refers to himself only as a Gauteng professional, he doesn't plan on splurging.

He says he's still feeling overwhelmed after the counselling and financial planning sessions.

He says nobody but his confidante knows about his big win, not even his family. He doesn't have any plans of informing them either, saying that people tend to get a little carried away when they receive a lump sum.

"The only thing I'm excited about is that I'm going to pay off my debts," he says enthusiastically.

He says he plans to invest the money and will ensure that his children's school fees are covered. He has one in primary school, one in high school and a third in university.

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