NZ’s luckiest Lotto store is trying to break a milestone this weekend, not Covid-19 social distancing regulations.

Throngs of people are expected to descend on Unichem Stortford Lodge Pharmacy in Hastings on Saturday in search of a winning ticket for Lotto’s $35 million jackpot.

The lucky store – which has sold more First Division-winning tickets than any other in NZ – has found cracking the milestone challenging.

It has been sitting on 49 Lotto First Division winners for almost two and a half years – it’s last big win being a $200,000 prize in May 2019.

But try telling that to the solid crowd on Friday. And staff say they expect even more will turn up from opening time on Saturday morning.

Yasmin Allen said it was “always busy”, but especially so because of the $35m prize money up for grabs, with Powerball on a rolling jackpot since it was last struck on August 21.

“Tomorrow will be madness,” she said.

Covid-19 restrictions about crowd sizes meant they were working through ways to limit customers on Saturday and keep to the rules.

As well as 49 First Division-winning tickets, the St Leonards store has also been the scene of three Powerball First Division prizes.

The 49 lucky winners each took home a share of more than $41m in prizes.

Hastings woman Joan Cardie said she often bought Lotto tickets when she had a bit of spare cash, mostly from the St Leonards store.

“It’s got a good feeling,” she added.

“The staff are always wonderful here.”

Though she’s never won more than a small prize before, if she claimed the jackpot she said she’d share it with family and donate to the rescue helicopter and ambulance services.

“If it’s going to come up, it will.”

Daniel Coburn found it harder to say how he’d spend the cash – it’s a lot of money.

“I’d cash it straight away.”

To start he might buy a car – a new Ford – and maybe a campervan to go travelling with his sister.

He said Covid-19 restrictions meant there were some things he wouldn’t be able to do.

Kirsten Robinson, Lotto NZ’s senior corporate communications manager, said there was a lot of excitement around the country, encouraging people to get their tickets early.

“If a single player is lucky enough to win Powerball First Division on Saturday night, it will be the second-largest prize ever won in New Zealand.

“We know that 5pm to 7.30pm on Saturday will be our busiest time both in-store and online, so we recommend players pick up their ticket ahead of this peak time to make sure they’re in with a chance to win.”

Strike Four also rolled over on Wednesday and will be $600,000 on Saturday.

The largest-ever Powerball win came in November 2016 when a couple from the Hibiscus Coast won $44m with a ticket bought at Dairy Flat Food Mart and Liquor.

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