A retired couple nearly lost out on £57.9m when their winning lottery ticket was torn in two and put in a bin. Fred and Lesley Higgins had their ticket for the 10 July draw checked at their local Laurencekirk shop, but the machine initially said it was not a winner.
Just after the ticket was torn in half, the machine produced a “chitty” prompting the couple to call Camelot. Having checked the numbers, they found out they were the winners of a huge £57.9m.
Fred and Lesley Higgins won nearly £59m on the EuroMillions Mr Higgins, 67, said: “I handed the ticket over and the young man put it through the machine, telling me it wasn’t a winner. He ripped the ticket in two and threw it into the bin, as they would with all non-winning tickets.
“But this time, the terminal produced a chitty which said I needed to retain my ticket and call Camelot. The retailer immediately grabbed it out of the bin and handed it to me.
“The ticket had been torn in two but all the numbers were still clear, so I took it back home to make the call.
“Lesley was snoozing so I thought I would look at the website to double-check the numbers and sure enough, the first matched, then the second matched, match, match – we had them all.”
The couple plan to spend the money on a home abroad
But when he told wife Lesley they’d won, she thought they would be £5.7m richer, not £57m.
Mr Higgins added: “I felt really calm at that point – I think it was just sinking in – so I then called Camelot and explained what had happened.
“I wasn’t ever concerned that we wouldn’t get the money as I knew it was an honest mistake – it just had to be looked at to make sure everything was correct.”
As the ticket had been torn, Camelot sent out its security team to review CCTV footage and speak to the store staff.
Fred, 67, and Lesley, 57, from Laurencekirk
Mrs Higgins, 57, quit her job as an account manager for the Montrose Port Authority as soon as the money was transferred.
The couple, who have been married for 35 years, bought an Audi cabriolet and are thinking of visiting India and China.
They are also looking at second homes in Barbados.
With the couple’s anniversary and Mr Higgins’ birthday coming up in August, they say they will be celebrating those before making any big decisions.
They have already bought themselves a new car
Mr Higgins, a retired Audi administrator, has carried on playing the lottery, and won £25 after scooping the jackpot.
A Camelot spokesman said: “We are so glad to be able to pay Fred and Lesley this amazing sum. It is essential that we ensure we are paying the rightful ticket-holder, and in situations like this it can take a little time for these investigations to be completed.”