A Scottish couple who scooped £57.9m on the EuroMillions lottery were almost denied the enormous jackpot after the winning ticket was accidently ripped up and thrown in the bin.
When 67-year-old Fred Higgins took the ticket to his local Scotmid store in Aberdeenshire, the teenage shop assistant operating the lottery machine mistakenly tore it in half and chucked it away.
But the machine also produced an automated message explaining the ticket should be retained and lottery operator Camelot should be contacted.
The shop assistant picked the pieces out of the bin and handed them back to Mr Higgins.
It was only when the retired Audi worker returned home and doubled-checked the numbers that he realised what the automated message meant: he and his wife Lesley, 57, had won the jackpot and were on the verge of becoming multi-millionaires.
“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,” said Mr Higgins.
“When Lesley woke, I explained we had a winning ticket and what had happened. I showed her the numbers, asked her to check and she misread them, thinking we were £5.7m richer rather than an amazing £57m.
“I felt really calm at that point – I think it was just sinking in – so I then called Camelot and explained what had happened.”
A spokesman for Camelot explained a range of security checks had to take place before the huge pay out because the ticket was ripped in two, including an examination of the shop’s CCTV footage.
“We are so glad to be able to pay Fred and Lesley this amazing sum,” he said. “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.”
The 18-year-old shop assistant Sean Grant has also spoken of his delight over the scale of the prize. “To hear it was £57m was just amazing, and for a local couple, it's even better.”
Recalling his “honest mistake” over the winning ticket, the teenager said: “I definitely won’t be ripping them up (in future).”
Following their huge lottery win Mrs Higgins has quit her job as account manager at Montrose Port Authority. The couple are now considering trips to China and India, and the possibility of a second home in Barbados.
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