'I checked and couldn't believe my eyes,' says winner of R23m Lotto jackpot

A normal work day ended on a different note when a man discovered his R23m winning lottery ticket last week.
A normal work day ended on a different note when a man discovered his R23m winning lottery ticket last week.
Image: GroundUp/Roxanne Joseph

It had been a normal afternoon after work for a man in his 40s - until he discovered his R23m winning Lotto ticket among a bunch of other tickets last week.

"I could not believe my eyes. I checked, checked and checked again. I then called my wife, who was busy cooking in the kitchen," said the Pretoria man, who claimed his winnings just a month before the ticket was due to expire.

On Monday, the pair went to the Ithuba headquarters in Sandton, Johannesburg. Asked why it had taken him so long to claim his winnings, he said he'd forgotten because he was a frequent player.

"What I can say is that you bet this thing [the Lotto]. Sometimes you check [your tickets], sometimes you don’t. You can't predict if you'll win or not," he told journalists. 

Reports in the media that the winning ticket had been unclaimed and was on the verge of expiring prompted the man to check his tickets.

"It was all over the news, so I thought maybe I should check my tickets. What I've seen over the years is that you can't say if you'll win or not. It's not like I did something unusual to win. I guess it was my lucky day," he said.

Asked what the couple planned to do with the winnings, they said it gave them financial freedom and the chance to build generational wealth.

"This will open many doors for us. It will give us freedom that we black people never had. Yes, we have been free since 1994, politically, but not financially," he said.

The wife said they would invest the money.

"I don't think we will have the money in our hands," she said.

The couple said they would keep it a secret and would not even tell their children, for their safety.

They said this new-found financial freedom did not mean they would quit their jobs.

Despite winning so much, the man said he would not stop playing the lottery.

"Sometimes I  buy Quick Pick because I am in a rush. Sometimes I sit down and pick numbers," he said.

His winning ticket had been purchased in Centurion for R30.  

He cautioned others against playing because they were desperate.

"When you're desperate you hardly win. I've seen people gamble with their salaries and end up losing things because they were desperate." 

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