New Zealand man who won $15 million in lottery stays humble

Oct 7, 2022, 6:24 pm (6 comments)

After the Big Win

Lottery winner's extraordinary generosity

By Kate Northrop

Like any lottery winner, one anonymous New Zealander considers himself lucky to win $15 million (US$8.4 million) in the lottery, but it's his sunny outlook and boundless generosity that separates him from the rest.

"Michael," who has been given an alternative name to protect his identity, has always been a boon to his community, and winning $15 million in the New Zealand Lottery's Lotto game did nothing to change that.

The Porirua man recalled that life had thrown several hardships his way. He didn't used to own a home, and he had lost someone very close to him. He lived with his two adult children and "didn't have much," but he channeled his passion and energy into a non-profit in his community, "a place where there were a lot of social issues."

"I had a little bit of debt," he told the New Zealand Herald. "The kids had jobs and we were in a good position. We had a car etcetera. But nothing to a luxurious degree. We never had money, not enough to really value it."

Michael recalled the time seven years ago when all that changed.

One evening, he tuned into the Lotto draw, which he enters using his own regular numbers. One by one, the ball drawing machine pulled each and every familiar number.

"I was like, 'Oh, I've won something here,'" he recalled. "I told my daughter to come and read out the numbers to me. As we read them, it became evident that I'd won."

Given the difficult year for Michael and his children, their celebration unraveled all the emotions pent up over time.

"It was very emotional: a lot of yelling and screaming at first, jumping up and down. But then, I think given the year we'd gone through, there were a few tears."

Everything that came after happened like a "whirlwind." Michael took his kids with him to Aukland to verify the winning ticket, recalling that even the moment they stepped foot in the lottery office to speak to the receptionist was "surreal."

"The receptionist said, 'How can I help?' And I said, 'I'm the winner from Porirua,'" Michael related. "They just smiled and from there, everyone at Lotto was really awesome."

That same weekend, Michael treated himself and his children to a fancy hotel, nice restaurants, and shopping sprees.

"I gave the kids a little bit of spending money," he said. "They went a little bit crazy. We were all able to enjoy ourselves and take a breath. It took a long time to sink in and we were all just in amazement and dumbfounded that given everything that had happened, this had happened to us as well."

$15 million in the bank could have easily allowed Michael and his kids to maintain such a lifestyle for a long time, but that was not at the forefront of his mind.

Instead, he gave half the winnings to his best friend.

It's hard to imagine easily giving away such a huge sum of money at a time, about $7.5 million, but it was a no-brainer for Michael, who said he was determined to honor a promise no matter what.

"We'd been friends for over 20 years," he explained. "We'd worked together... two jobs for a long time."

The pair would often sit together smoking cigarettes during nighttime shifts, "dreaming and talking and laughing." At one point, the topic of the lottery had come up in conversation, and they mutually agreed to split the prize if they won.

Ten years after they had made the promise to each other, Michael was ready to help a friend in need, who, like Michael, was dealing with his own set of hardships, "job-wise and health-wise."

"That act of giving half to my friend, no one can say anything in relation to being greedy," he said to the New Zealand Herald. "That act itself sort of set up that frame around it. I say this with humility, but it was a wonderful gift. I've never had a second of regret. It was the right thing to do."

As far as Michael was concerned, $7.5 million was a drop in the bucket compared to the good he wanted to do for his family and others. He set his children up for financial success, gave his siblings a "small gift" of $250,000 in a fun Secret Santa game, and most importantly, bought himself a house he could finally feel at peace in.

"A house is huge," he remarked. "You know, given this day and age and what houses are valued at, I'm grateful that I have a home that's freehold. I don't complain about paying rates or insurance because there are people that are really struggling or even just struggling to get into first homes."

He went on to say that simply sitting in his house stirs immense feelings of gratitude that it's really his.

"I think of people, especially young people, how they struggle at the moment and in general how our country is struggling with inequality," he continued. "So, I'm just grateful to have what I consider a beautiful home and lie in a nice bed. It's something I'm very grateful for."

Winning the lottery and enjoying his newfound happiness has not done a single thing to deter Michael from helping others in his community.

"I grew up in a place where there are a lot of social issues," he said in an interview. "I still work there and to still be a part of that community is a privilege. To make a difference, especially for tamariki and rangatahi [children and families], is really cool. I just look at them and think of me... where I came from and how I was brought up. I think it all led to me doing that work."

"I think people have a very narrow vision of what these children are capable of, whereas they have massive potential to dream and to achieve. That's what I say when I connect with them."

Michael says he's done his best to preserve his anonymity, but there are still some who either inquire about his win or occasionally ask for handouts.

"It's been said before, but you find out some things about people you thought you were close to," Michael said. "It's a sad thing, but in a way it tells you more about people... rather than thinking, I've upset that person, you think, I've done the best I can looking after my family and the people I really care for and love."

Thanks to dannyct for the tip.

Lottery Post Staff


Raven62's avatarRaven62

Congrats to the Deserving Winner!

rcbbuckeye's avatarrcbbuckeye

Really nice story!!!

Mata Garbo

"Michael" is a very reflective person, who seems to care deeply about his family, the promises he makes and the overall well being of his community. Sounds like this guy was already a winner before his lottery numbers came out.


ErikB14's avatarErikB14

God bless you Michael. Thanks for keeping your promise.

bub1964's avatarbub1964

Glad to see people like this win


Porirua's down the road from me. Not noticed any obvious signs of wealth apart from a bright orange Lambo on Highway 1.

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