The Winner of the Record R145 Million SA PowerBall Has Been Revealed
Lottery fever swept South Africa in recent weeks as the jackpot in the country’s popular PowerBall game grew to a record R145 million. It was revealed after the draw on Friday 3rd August that one lucky ticket holder won the entire amount, and now the winner has come forward to claim his prize.
The player, known only under the pseudonym Thabo, travelled to the Johannesburg office of Ithuba, the operator of PowerBall, on Tuesday. Accompanied by his wife, known only as Lynette (also not her real name), the winner staked his claim for the record jackpot.
Thabo found out that he had won the jackpot on Saturday, and he said “it was not easy” to make the call to Ithuba to verify the win. The 34-year-old engineer, who was born and raised in Ekurhuleni, added: "I needed to properly digest it and accept that my life has changed”. He spent just R20 on the ticket that would eventually come to be worth millions, and he bought it from Evander Dienstasie, 1 Rotterdam Road, Evander, Mpumalanga.
Lynette told the press that the couple had been playing the lottery for years, ever since they met in high school. "After classes‚ we would walk a distance to play the lotto‚" she said. “We have both been playing lotto since then.” Before Friday’s epic jackpot win, the most they had ever won was a few hundred rand.
The heightened publicity around the record prize meant that the couple did not want to reveal their real names. “You can’t even open your phone without hearing that they are looking for you‚” Lynette said. She even returned to work but kept the news secret from her colleagues. "They were saying 'guys‚ this money has been won right here'. I had to pretend”, she said.
In June, Ithuba changed the rules of PowerBall, including increasing the number of balls from 45 to 50, in the hope of generating bigger prizes and more buzz around the game. That has certainly been achieved, with Friday’s jackpot, the first won since the new rules were introduced, smashing the previous record for the biggest-ever PowerBall jackpot, which was claimed back in 2011 and stood at R102 million.
Although Thabo said that he and his wife weren’t exactly short of money before the win - he said he had between R20,000 and R30,000 in his bank account - he admitted that the money would change their lives. He plans to invest the winnings and help his family financially. “What I'm planning now is to look for investment opportunities in my work environment”, he said.
“There are many opportunities I've seen but I had no capital. Even if I want to continue working it would be impossible because my mind is not there, my focus has to shift, not that I'm excited or I don't want to work.”
Ithuba will provide support to the winners to help them adjust to their new lives as multi-millionaires. The organisation’s Public Relations Officer, Naledi Masopha, said that Thabo and Lynette would have the opportunity to go through a financial advisory and counselling programme.
“What we do is that we start with the verification process to make sure it’s the winning ticket and also verify the winner,” Masopha said. “Then we move to the appointment of financial advisors and psychological counsellors while the claim is being processed. But before the end of the week, the winner will have all his R145 million in his bank account, tax free.”
After the record PowerBall jackpot was won, the prize reset to R5 million for the following draw on Tuesday. No players managed to match all five numbers plus the PowerBall in that draw, so it has rolled over to R10 million for the next draw on Friday 10th August.