I’M THE MAN WHO NEARLY LOST £76 M

Builder, 51, left win­ning ticket in van for six weeks

Daily Express - - Front Page - By Paul Jeeves and Lucy Thorn­ton

A BUILDER told yes­ter­day how he was nearly “the man who lost £76mil­lion” af­ter stash­ing the win­ning ticket in his van for six weeks.

Lucky An­drew Clark, 51, bought the Euromil­lions ticket, then tucked it loosely be­hind the sun vi­sor. And it was thanks to his girl­friend Tr­isha Fairhurst who urged him to check the num­bers that he re­alised

he was a rich man. The ticket was among a bun­dle he had stashed in his work ve­hi­cle. An­drew said: “The ticket was in the van be­hind my sun vi­sor. It was not re­ally safe. I’ve had them blow out the win­dow be­fore. “Luck­ily, this one didn’t.”

In the six weeks it took him to check, his colos­sal £76,369,806 win would have earned around £130,000 in cur­rent ac­count in­ter­est alone.

The Na­tional Lot­tery launched a fran­tic search for the win­ner af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing where it was bought.

They de­ployed mo­bile hoard­ings around Bos­ton and Skeg­ness in Lin­colnshire to en­cour­age the win­ner to come for­ward, and even en­listed Bos­ton town crier Steve O’Dare to spread the news.

Mean­while, the di­vorced fa­ther-oftwo was be­ing nagged by Tr­isha, 51, to see if he had won.

The 12th big­gest win­ner in UK his­tory said: “Tr­isha kept telling me to check the tick­ets, and her niece Louise, who I was build­ing an ex­ten­sion for, was also in on it once she’d heard about the un­claimed prize in the news.

“It was some­thing of a stand­ing joke that I had all these tick­ets while there was a lo­cal prize out­stand­ing.”

Af­ter re­al­is­ing his num­bers had hit the jack­pot he rang Tr­isha and told her: “Start look­ing for a man­sion.”

Tr­isha said: “I’d just got back from work and was set­tling in for a quiet evening when An­drew called and said, ‘You know that £76mil­lion, well I’ve just won it.’ Ob­vi­ously I didn’t be­lieve a word of it. Even when my niece came on the phone to say it was true I still couldn’t take it in.

Mag­i­cal

“It started to seem real when he called back and said, ‘Hon­estly, it’s real, so start look­ing for a man­sion.’

“Bang went my quiet evening – I didn’t sleep a wink!”

Yes­ter­day the grand­fa­ther-of-three, who picked up the win­ning ticket in East­wood Road Post Of­fice in Bos­ton, said: “It al­most feels like some mag­i­cal Christ­mas story, the man who nearly lost £76mil­lion.”

An­drew toasted his big win with a sausage and egg McMuf­fin from McDon­ald’s – and splashed out an ex­tra 30p to make the £2.29 treat a dou­ble.

He added: “I don’t check them ev­ery week and just stuck to my nor­mal rou­tine. They give you 180 days to claim. I check them half­way through – make them sweat!

“The mo­ment I re­alised, I was stunned. I could not be­lieve it. It was a hell of a mo­ment.”

An­drew, from Bos­ton, found out about his mam­moth win on Thurs­day last week and kept things quiet un­til the cou­ple an­nounced them­selves at a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.

And they con­fessed that they had al­ready splashed out on a house, a Mercedes-Benz AMG C 63 and a Nis­san Qashqai.

An­drew added: “On Mon­day we went and bought a new car for Tr­isha.

“We said we wanted to pay for this car and just take it away. He said, ‘Oh, are you our £76mil­lion lot­tery win­ners?’ We said, ‘No.’ That was funny. Then we started to look around for a house and have had an of­fer ac­cepted.

“We have not gone too ex­trav­a­gant. It’s a nice larger fam­ily home.”

The cou­ple say this Christ­mas will be a quiet af­fair – stay­ing in the UK, with din­ner in a restau­rant in Skeg­ness on New Year’s Eve.

How­ever, An­drew prom­ises that “next year will be a dif­fer­ent story”.

The new multi-mil­lion­aire says he will now re­tire from his build­ing busi­ness and stick to projects for him­self.

For Tr­isha, who met An­drew four years ago through an on­line dat­ing ser­vice, the win has spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance. Their life-chang­ing win will se­cure the fu­ture of her 14-year-old dis­abled daugh­ter.

Tr­isha, who has no im­me­di­ate plans to give up her job as a cater­ing as­sis­tant at Bos­ton Pil­grim Hos­pi­tal, said: “This will set her up for life. I can give her pri­vate res­i­den­tial care.”

An­drew added: “She will be able to live with her friends so she can en­joy life. At home she is stuck with us. She is al­ways hap­pi­est when she is with her friends.

“She has strug­gled to live in­de­pen­dently but with the right help hope­fully she can live with some help alone.

“The whole fam­ily will be looked af­ter, well looked af­ter. They won’t want for any­thing. My sis­ter was un­der the threat of re­dun­dancy, so she is well happy.

“Tr­isha’s sis­ter’s mort­gage will be paid off. She is slightly older and was a lit­tle bit wor­ried about that.

“Ev­ery­one is just over the moon. It’s made their day.’’

SEA­SONAL good cheer will be felt by An­drew Clark, 51, of Bos­ton, Lincs, per­haps more than any­body else in the coun­try. To dis­cover win­ning lot­tery num­bers for £76mil­lion in a stash of tick­ets in his van must have been a re­mark­able mo­ment for the builder. We are sure ev­ery­body wishes him all the best and that he can now en­joy a leisurely life.

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