The Irish Christmas Millionaire Raffle takes place every New Year’s Eve and offers thousands of guaranteed prizes for ticket holders with matching numbers. The top prize is always worth €1 million, and it was revealed earlier this week that the lucky ticket, numbered 054239, was bought at Flanagan’s Centra in Castlebridge, Co. Wexford, on Thursday 14th December.
O’Connor has now travelled over from Preston to Dublin to visit Irish National Lottery headquarters and collect his money. The delighted footballer said his godfather Peadar Murphy had left the message ‘I wish you the best of luck’ when he posted the ticket a couple of weeks ago, but he had thought nothing more of it until his mother phoned him ‘in a panic’ after hearing about where the winning ticket had been sold.
He said: “After some searching, I sent them a picture of the ticket but I never really believed that it was the winner of the €1 million prize. We (Preston North End) had a game with Middlesbrough on Monday night so I completely put it to the back of my head until after the final whistle. It’s been an incredible two days and I don’t think the win has sunk in yet.”
O’Connor is not yet sure about how he plans to use the money as he is staying focused on his football, but he had his family with him as he visited National Lottery headquarters and fully intends to share the wealth with his loved ones. “The important part of today was having my family with me so they will be at the forefront of any plans.”
O’Connor is not the only footballer to have enjoyed lottery success in recent months. Tommy Bechmann, a former Bundesliga player, won a Danish lottery prize worth DKK5 million (£588,000) last October, while a Premier League player won a five-figure prize in UK Lotto in 2012 but opted for anonymity.
It has been a great couple of weeks for Irish National Lottery players, with a €5.4 million Irish Lotto jackpot won just before Christmas. A Dublin player also snapped up a EuroMillions jackpot of €38.9 million on Friday 29th December, but they have yet to come forward. Ireland offers a number of exciting games, and players can either go to authorised retailers or choose numbers online to get involved.