Euromillions jackpot winner Mary Hamilton: I had £13m lottery ticket in my pocket for week and didn’t realise
She had a £12.9m winning lottery ticket in her pocket for more than a week without realising it.
Now Mary Hamilton has vowed to help both sides of the community and to treat her 21 nieces and nephews, family and friends with her new fortune.
Last night, Mrs Hamilton and her husband Sandy (67), who she shares the fortune with, treated family and friends to a celebration party in the five star Culloden Hotel.
Northern Ireland's second largest winner to go public admitted yesterday that her winning ticket was from the previous week's Euromillions draw.
The realisation that she was a jackpot winner only came last Friday when she went into the Jet filling station on the Shore Road, Belfast, to buy her weekly Lotto and Euromillions tickets.
"I didn't check my ticket, I don't normally as I never thought I would win," she said.
"That night I asked the girl to check my tickets and then went to make a cup of tea from their machine.
"I heard a lot of talking but didn't realise that the excitement was about me.
"It was only when they said that they couldn't pay me out the money as it was too big that I realised that I must have won more than the £36 that I won two weeks ago, which I was delighted with."
As one man in the shop checked her ticket numbers - 13, 25, 32, 38 and 46, with lucky stars 01 and 10 - then told her, "You're just the other UK winner", Mrs Hamilton revealed that the "strength left her legs". "Every time I tried to get up and walk, I couldn't, I had to sit down," said Mrs Hamilton (65), who then phoned her husband with the good news as she was afraid of him hearing it from others first.
While the couple were welcomed back home by their neighbours with champagne, it took some time for the momentous news to sink in.
"For the first 24 hours I didn't feel anything. It was just a rollercoaster of ups and downs," Mrs Hamilton said.
She bought her winning Euromillions ticket from Asda in north Belfast although she normally buys them from the Jet shop.
Mrs Hamilton and her husband worked for 30 years collecting payments on behalf of Belfast furniture store Bannons.
They made friends with customers from both sides of the community in north Belfast and Newtownabbey.
Mrs Hamilton said she intends to make good on her promise to them that they would be "second on the list after family" if she ever won the lottery.
"I intend to keep my word and do just that.
"You could call it a thank-you for keeping us in a job," she said.
She also intends to support her favourite charities, the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice and Cancer Research and hopes to get a new dog after the couple lost their beloved Max last year.
Known to her family as Mary Christmas because of her generosity over the years, Mrs Hamilton said that she was planning to have a "peaceful Christmas" with all her family and friends.
She added: "Yes, the wish can come true, I believe Northern Ireland is having a lucky streak at the moment, so go buy your tickets."
The devoted couple now plan to retire to the north coast and enjoy several cruises.