And finally…that’s (almost) torn it!

A Scottish couple who have been revealed as the winners of the huge £57.9 million jackpot in the EuroMillions have told how checking their ticket almost ended in disaster after it was torn in half and thrown in the bin.

Fred and Lesley Higgins, a retired couple from Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire, bought a ticket for the 10th July draw from Scotmid on High Street, Laurencekirk, and Mr Higgins returned to the shop after the draw to get it checked. However, after running the ticket through the machine, the shop worker mistakenly told him that it wasn’t a winner, before tearing it in half and throwing it in the bin.

Damaging a winning lottery ticket doesn’t automatically invalidate it, but the possibility of claiming a prize with it depends on how extensive the damage is and if organiser Camelot can otherwise verify it if important details have been rendered illegible.

It was only after the lottery machine alerted the worker that the ticket holder should contact Camelot that the error was discovered. The two halves of the ticket were promptly retrieved and handed back to Mr Higgins for the couple to make their claim.

Speaking about the moment their multi-million pound lottery ticket went in the bin, Mr Higgins said: “I handed the ticket over and the young man put it through the machine, telling me it wasn’t a winner. He ripped the ticket in two and threw it into the bin, as they would with all non-winning tickets. But this time, the terminal produced a chitty which said I needed to retain my ticket and call Camelot.

“The retailer immediately grabbed it out of the bin and handed it to me, not realising it was a winner before he discarded it.”

Mr Higgins took the ticket home and logged on to the National Lottery website to check the numbers while his wife napped.

He said: “The first matched, then the second matched, match, match - we had them all. When Lesley woke, I explained we had a winning ticket and what had happened. I showed her the numbers, asked her to check and she misread them, thinking we were £5.7m richer rather than an amazing £57m.”

Mr Higgins then called Camelot to initiate the claim process. Due to the unusual circumstances of claiming a jackpot with a torn ticket, a security team from Camelot visited the couple and reviewed CCTV footage from the shop to make sure everything was above board. This led to a slight delay in awarding the prize and publicising the couple’s win, but they’re now free to plan what they’re going to do with their winnings.

“We had a really comfortable life before the win”, Mr. Higgins said, “but we did have dreams of living abroad. We love Gozo, which is where my niece lives, so we always thought we would get somewhere out there.

“But I have to say since we won, I’ve got my eye on somewhere in France and Lesley seems to be looking at property in Barbados. I think it might be fun to explore a few places before we commit to buying anything.”