Thursday 22 February 2018

Mystery Lotto millionaire rings shop to say thanks

Conor Kane and Ralph Riegel

IF it was a crossword clue, it was definitely of the cryptic variety.

The sheer volume of possible answers suggested saw to that in Dungarvan yesterday. '€8m down, €8m across -- was it you?'

Everyone in the Waterford market town was willing to have a stab at the answer to the €16.7m Lotto winning puzzle yesterday.

"I heard it was 'such-and-such' from Dungarvan," said one.

"No, it was 'Mrs such-and-such' from Lemybrien," replied another.

"An old bachelor farmer from Ballymacarbry or Kilbrien," ventured another still.

But nobody could solve the millionaire mystery. The squares remained blank -- nothing would fit snugly.

And those who had a sneak peak at the answer weren't too keen on divulging it. Eason outlet owner, Pat Whyte, whose store sold the golden €6 quickpick ticket on Wednesday afternoon, spoke to the winner by telephone yesterday morning and said the person was "thrilled, delighted and emotional".


But Mr Whyte was determined not to give any more pieces of the millionaire puzzle away.

The winner had not contacted National Lottery headquarters last night but did telephone the shop owner to express their thanks and excitement at the massive windfall.

Mr Whyte said he had a "confidential conversation" with the new millionaire yesterday morning -- but refused to divulge any further details. "Thrilled and delighted," was the reaction of the winner, Mr Whyte added.

"With these things you need to take time out, not to rush into anything that you might regret later on. These things are always a balance between being able to publicly enjoy spending the money and protecting one's privacy," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr Whyte warned he could not reveal who the winner was but promised: "It couldn't happen to a nicer person."

The winning €6 ticket was purchased by an individual and not on behalf of a syndicate. Dungarvan Shopping Centre manager Gerry O'Connor said his son Mark (18) spotted the news on the internet late on Wednesday night.

"Then the phone started ringing and it hasn't stopped since. There's been a fabulous reaction. People are delighted. It's great news for the town," he said.

Mr O'Connor added that they were "hearing all sorts of names" about the identity of the winner but nothing was confirmed: "An awful lot of people come into this centre every day."

The west Waterford market town was awash with rumours throughout the day as to the identity of the new multi-millionaire -- with gossip focussed on the village of Lemybrien.

However, Lemybrien locals were baffled by the rumours and said that they weren't aware of any possible winner in their area.

In Crotty's pub, punters watching the April meeting in Cheltenham were bemused by the sudden media interest in the village.

"I wish I knew, but I don't," barman David Morrissey said. But as the names mentioned in the rumour mill were rattled off, he shook his head. "No, it definitely wasn't them," or "No, he was in this morning and he definitely would have told me".

One couple from the village -- who were the subject of a number of rumours -- were not at home yesterday having gone away on a prearranged trip to the UK. Neighbours laughed off reports that the couple were linked to the €16.7m jackpot.

There were also reports that the winner may have been a bachelor farmer from outside Lemybrien.

A National Lottery spokesperson confirmed that the €16.7m jackpot had not yet been formally claimed.

The winner now has 90 days to make themselves known at lottery headquarters with the valuable ticket.

The biggest ever Lotto jackpot in this country was the €18.9m won by the Dan Morrissey syndicate in Carlow in 2008.

Irish Independent

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