A LUCKY punter scooped almost £100,000 playing the Irish Lottery in a town centre bookmakers just five days before Christmas.
The winner, a town man who wished not to be named, only visits Betfred, in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre once a week to try his luck at the weekly draw.
But he was celebrating after scooping a huge £97,515 from a £15 stake.
Ben Ward, 20, a cashier at the bookies, said: “He came in the next day to pick up his cheque and he was still in shock.
“It’s certainly the biggest payout we have had in here, but it’s nice to see someone win such a huge amount.”
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The lottery is drawn every Wednesday and Saturday night and is televised in all bookies.
Hopefuls must match the first six numbers drawn - from one to 45 - to win the jackpot. A seventh ‘bonus’ number is also drawn.
The town winner went into Betfred during the day on Saturday, December 21 and put the lottery on. But it wasn’t until he checked online later that night when he realised he had won.
The shocked staff in Betfred realised one of their punters had won the life-changing amount of money when it showed up on their computer system after the draw.
Mark Porritt, 26, assistant manager in the branch, said: “We have to check all winning bets that pay over £10 and then we saw that someone had won nearly £100,000.
“It’s such a huge amount. I’ve seen someone win £54,000 on a horse bet before, but never seen anyone win anywhere near as much as this on the Irish Lottery.”
Ben, who lives in Park Road, Hartlepool, added: “I congratulated him when he came in to pick up his cheque the day later.”
Staff at Betfred have since put up notices in the bookies congratulating the winner.
And they admit it has caused quite a stir with the other punters.
Mark added: “Everyone has been asking us about it, our other punters are as pleased as we are to see someone win such a huge amount.”