A Scots couple who won £57.9 million in a EuroMillions draw waited two weeks to find out whether they could claim the prize after their lucky ticket was mistakenly ripped in two and put in the bin by a shop worker.
Lesley and Fred Higgins, from Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire, endured the wait as Camelot launched an investigation into the damaged ticket.
Meanwhile, the pair told no one apart from their daughter about their potential windfall with Mrs Higgins continuing to go to work as normal.
The ripped ‘lucky dip’ was put in an envelope, with ‘money worries over’ written on the front, and hid away in a filing cabinet in their home.
Last week, the couple had their win verified with Mrs Higgins, 57, a former account manager at Montrose Port Authority, handing in her notice the next morning.
She said: “There have been so many emotions. There has been laughter, there have been tears and there has been disbelief. I went to work the next morning and said to my boss ‘I have a problem, I have won the lottery’.
“We had a long chat and it was decided it was best that I didn’t go into my office that day.”
Mr Higgins, 67, who retired from the car industry two years ago, said he had managed to stay “quite calm”.
He added: “I was 95 per cent sure we were going to get the money as I knew my ticket was bona fide. I actually managed to stay quite calm about it. Now, it hasn’t really sunk in.”
After celebrating their win with Champagne and a pasta dinner with family, the couple are now “taking a breath” before making any long-term plans. They have, however, treated themselves to new white Audi A5.
The couple now hope to fulfil a dream of seeing the Taj Mahal, with China, Russia and Dubai also appealing. They would like to buy a house abroad, but have no plans to leave the Laurencekirk area.
Mrs Higgins added: “I looked at a house in Barbados. It was £3.5m. Then I looked at a house in London. It was £30m. It puts into perspective what we have won.
“To say it is a life-changing amount is an understatement.”
Sean Grant, 18, who works at Scotmid in Laurencekirk, ripped up the winning ticket.
He said: “Mr Higgins gave me two tickets and the first one wasn’t a winner, so I binned it. The second one came through as a winner, but I ripped it up thinking it would be a £10 or £20 pay out and 99 per cent of people don’t want their ticket back. Then the machine said the win was in excess of what we could pay. I got the ticket out the bin, apologised and said he had to phone Camelot.”
Mr Grant said he “couldn’t believe it” when he was told the ticket was worth £58m. “I don’t think I have paid out even £50 or £100 before,” he said.