Lotto: Record number of Kiwis became overnight millionaires in 2020

This year is definitely one for the books - and it turns out 2020 has also made history when it comes to Kiwi Lotto winners.

An unprecedented 62 New Zealanders became overnight millionaires this year, which is the most ever in Lotto's 33-year history.

"We know 2020 was a really tough year for many people, so we're absolutely thrilled that so many people won big," Marie Winfield, head of communications and corporate social responsibility at Lotto NZ told Newshub on Tuesday.

Of those 62 lucky winners, a record-breaking 28 were Powerball winners - the most multi-millionaires Lotto has had in a single year.  

Winfield says there's no particular reason as to why so many people have hit the jackpot.

"We don't know how the balls are going to fall, so it really just comes down to people having those lucky numbers on their ticket."

The biggest prize-winners of 2020 were in Auckland and Hawke's Bay, who split February's historic $50 million haul.

The Hawke's Bay winner said they'd bought a new house, while their Auckland counterpart has paid off their mortgage and purchased a bach.

In September, one lucky Christchurch man pocketed $10.5 million with Powerball, and he had no doubts as to how he would splash the cash: he took home a Lamborghini, the car of his dreams.

A million-dollar winner in Auckland donated a chunk of his windfall to the SPCA and other charities impacted by the ongoing pandemic.   

Financial advisor Liz Koh says the best thing Lotto winners can do with the money is to get rid of any debt, pay off the mortgage or buy a property.

"When you win a big amount of money, let that feeling of euphoria subside a bit because we do have that excitement... and that can lead us to make some irrational decisions," she told Newshub.

"Leave the money in the bank for six months or whatever."

However, just because so many Kiwis hit the jackpot this year, that doesn't mean the odds are in your favour.

"The chances of winning Lotto and solving all your problems are zero," Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Paula Snowden said.

"By all means spend $10 if you think you can afford to, but if you've lost everything - your job due to the pandemic, if you're struggling through Christmas time - spend that money on food and on your children, don't spend it on Lotto."

And while this year might be a write-off for many, for 62 New Zealanders, it'll be remembered as the year seven balls changed their lives.