Lotto winner had bank card declined hours before discovering €1m win

Odhrán Doherty (23), a farmer from Co Donegal, arrived in Dublin in white Hummer

 Lotto winner Ódhran Doherty arrives with his family at Lotto HQ in Dublin today to collect his cheque for €1 million . Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Lotto winner Ódhran Doherty arrives with his family at Lotto HQ in Dublin today to collect his cheque for €1 million . Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill


“All the hardship this last while,” Odhrán Doherty said with tears streaming down his face as he pulled his brother Shane into a firm embrace outside the National Lottery headquarters on Dublin’s Abbey Street on Tuesday afternoon.

The 23-year-old farmer from Raphoe Co Donegal had just arrived in Dublin in a white Hummer to collect the €1m prize he had won on the Lotto Plus 1 draw on Saturday night.

As he picked up the cheque he recalled how less than 72 hours earlier he had tried to get money out of his bank as he went to a party in his home town only for his card to be declined.

His card is unlikely to be declined in the weeks, months or years ahead although the young man stressed that - Hummer aside - the money would not change him and he will continue to work on the family farm with his father Liam.

“I’m not going to let this go to my head,” he said. “I have my family beside me and they will keep me right.”

He has his father to thank for his good fortune. Liam bought three Lotto tickets in a shop in Raphoe after the pair had finished work on the farm on Saturday evening.

He had actually gone into the shop to buy bread and milk. The shop had neither so he settled for three Lotto tickets instead - one for his wife, one for himself and one for his son. He held up the three tickets and gave his wife the first pick. She chose the middle one.

Odhrán picked second. When he checked his ticket on Saturday night he realised he had won something. “I thought I had won a couple of thousand euro and I couldn’t believe it when I found out it was a million,” he said. “I could barely read all the zeros.”

“We always talk about what we would do if we won the Lotto but you never think it’ll actually happen to you. It is just unimaginable, it hasn’t even begun to sink in yet,” he admitted.

As to what he plans to do with the winnings, he said he would buy a new tractor and a silage machine for the farm and give his mother Margaret some spending money ahead of a trip to New York she had planned ahead of his big win. He also plans to go on holidays and said he was considering a skiing trip with a group of friends.

Speaking before he arrived, Odhrán’s sister Lana Doherty who has organised a party in her Wexford home said the family was still in shock.

“I’m just so happy for him,” she told The Irish Times. “He is just a young farmer and has no money. He’s never had any money but is a very chilled out young fella and I don’t think the money will go to his head.”

She admitted that she was a little “raging” she had not gone home for Mother’s Day last weekend. “Maybe if I had Dad would have got me a ticket too,” she said with a laugh.