02/08/2018 12:19 BST | Updated 02/08/2018 13:44 BST

EuroMillions Jackpot: Retailer Tore £57.9m Winning Ticket In Two

Fred and Lesley Higgins are eyeing up properties in France and Barbados.

This the moment the winners of a £57.9m EuroMillions jackpot were left speechless after being presented with their winnings for a ticket that had mistakenly been torn in two.  

Retired couple Fred Higgins, 67, and his with wife Lesley, 57, were handed a  cheque for the eight-digit sum at their home in Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire in a video released by Camelot on Thursday.  

The couple were left dumbstruck during the presentation as a Camelot official urged them to flip the cheque over to see the size of their prize.

The couple won the jackpot during a draw on July 10, but the winnings remained unclaimed a week later when Camelot made a public appeal urging players to check their tickets.

A Camelot spokesman said on Thursday that a range of security checks had to take place because the Higgins’ ticket was ripped in two by a retailer. 

“We are so glad to be able to pay Fred and Lesley this amazing sum,” he said. “It is essential that we ensure we are paying the rightful ticket-holder, and in situations like this, it can take a little time for these investigations to be completed.”

Fred Higgins said he was never concerned the couple would not be paid out, “as I knew it was a honest mistake – it just had to be looked at to make sure everything was correct”.

Higgins told how a young man who had “put it through the machine” had told him it wasn’t a winner, before tearing it in two and binning it. 

“But this time, the terminal produced a chitty which said I needed to retain my ticket and call Camelot,” he explained.

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

He went on: “The ticket had been torn in two but all the numbers were still clear so I took it back home to make the call.

“Lesley was snoozing so I thought I would look at the website to double-check the numbers and sure enough, 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!”

Higgins said he felt “really calm at that point: “I think it was just sinking in – so I then called Camelot and explained what had happened.”

The retired Audi administrator and his wife, who handed in her notice from her role as account manager at the Montrose Port Authority on Tuesday, chose a brand new Audi Cabriolet as their first purchase.

The couple, who have been married for 35 years, also have dreams of living abroad.

The couple kiss as they show off their winnings

“We had a really comfortable life before the win but we did have dreams of living abroad,” Higgins said. “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.”

Higgins, who collects Malt Whisky and has around 40 unopened bottles, said it was the couple’s wedding anniversary on 20 August and his birthday a couple of days later “so I think a celebration is in order before we decide what comes next”.

The Higgins’ winning tickets, bought at Scotmid, High Street, Laurencekirk contained all five main numbers  - 3, 8, 26, 33, 45 - along with Lucky Star numbers 7 and 10.