Dec 23, 2018, 11:42 am
A builder who stockpiled lottery tickets in his van discovered he had won £76 million (US$86 million) in the multi-country EuroMillions game six weeks after the winning draw.
Andrew Clark, 51, from Boston, Lincolnshire, said he was taking early retirement after discovering the winning ticket tucked in the visor of his Peugeot Expert van. Boston is a town and small port in Lincolnshire, on the east coast of England, approximately 100 miles north of London.
He made a claim for the prize — the 12th biggest win ever in the UK — last week, Camelot said.
Mr. Clark, who was urged to check his stash by his partner, said, "Trisha kept telling me to check the tickets, and her niece Louise, who I was building an extension for, was also in on it once she'd heard about the unclaimed prize in the news.
"It was something of a standing joke that I had all these tickets while there was a local prize outstanding, so for weeks they were on at me to check."
The ticket was bought from Eastwood Road Post Office in Boston.
Self-employed Mr. Clark revealed himself as the winner at a press conference in Grantham on Friday morning.
Referring to himself as "the man who nearly lost £76 million", he said he realized he was the mystery winner after he "finally gave in" and began working his way through his stash of tickets one evening.
He and his partner, Trisha Fairhurst, 51, have already bought a new home and two cars but say "the best thing about the win is how we can help all our family".
The grandfather-of-three said, "It almost feels like some magical Christmas story, the man who nearly lost £76 million! For all our family, I'm very pleased that Trisha and Louise nagged me to check those tickets!
"This Christmas is going to be a quiet affair, but next year will be a different story. Trisha and I have this vision of hiring a big lodge or hotel so that the whole family can get together and swap stories about how they've spent their share over the past 12 months.
"This win isn't just about Christmas magic, it's about creating a lifetime of magical moments for all those around us."
Mr. Clark and Ms. Fairhurst, who have been together for four years, said they had already bought their Christmas presents and did not intend to upgrade this year's festive plans.
But he admitted he had already increased the amount he had put in his granddaughters' Christmas cards, leaving one six-year-old dancing for joy.
"Normally I put £30 or £40 in a card for the grandkids on their birthdays and that," he said.
"Because of the day, I put £200 in her card. She seemed more interested in that, dancing around waving it about. She loved it".
Ms. Fairhurst said the press conference was taking place when they were supposed to be doing their Christmas food shopping.
Mr. Clark said the winning ticket was in a wad of tickets stuffed behind the visor in his van.
He admitted this was "not really safe", adding, "I've had them blow out of the window before but, luckily, this one didn't."
He said it was "one hell of a moment" when they realized they had the winning ticket. He said, "I was stunned, I couldn't believe it."
Mr. Clark, who has known he was the jackpot winner for a week, said he has already bought one car — a Nissan Qashqai — for Ms. Fairhurst and put a deposit down on a high-spec, £80,000 Mercedes, which is due for delivery on Saturday.
He said the Nissan dealer even said to them "are you those £76 million winners?" but they decided to stay quiet.
Mr. Clark said he has also put a deposit down on a new four-bed house.
"We haven't gone too extravagant," he said. "It's a nice, bigger family home."
Mr. Clark admitted it had a big garage so he can now indulge his love of cars and bikes: "If not, I'll build another one."
Mr. Clark said he has already given up working for other people — including walking away from the extension for Ms. Fairhurst's niece.
"The extension will get finished, It just won't be me," he said, adding, "I'd rather do that than go out in the cold."
He said he has never like working in the winter and is now looking forward to planning holidays to destinations like Mauritius, the Maldives and Hawaii.
But Ms. Fairhurst said she has no immediate plans to give up her job as a catering assistant at Boston Pilgrim Hospital.
She said the win will make a huge difference to her 14-year-old daughter who has special needs and will need help to live independently when she is older.
"This will set her up for life," she said. "I can pay for private care for her and residential care when she gets a bit older."
Mr. Clark has two sons in their thirties and three granddaughters, aged two, six and nine: "They will all be looked after — well looked after. They'll not want for anything."
He said he will continue to play the lottery — and still plans to only check his tickets every three months.
Thanks to dannyct for the tip.
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