A US priest won €500,000 in a special Christmas draw after a spur-of-the-moment decision to buy a ticket.
Father John Delaney, a Florida-based Catholic priest, was visiting relatives in Ireland over Christmas and said it was a last-minute decision to buy a lottery ticket.
'I got the usual set of numbers plus a quick pick. My niece Carol in California was celebrating her birthday on December 22 so I decided to get an extra ticket with the lotto plus as well. My late mother's anniversary was on the January 4, I was baptised on the 4th, so I purchased four tickets in the shop,' he told local Irish newspaper, the Mayo News.
'I paid no attention to the draw until my niece Deirdre called me on the Saturday morning to say that a ticket bought in Malahide had landed a half million win. "Maybe it's you?" she joked.
'I told her it was unlikely and that I was just getting things ready for Christmas and that I would check it later. So I headed back to the shop that evening and handed the tickets to the girl on the check-out. One of the first showed I had won six or eight euros but when she put the third one in, the machine kicked out "lottery winner" with a print-out saying "Please call lottery office at this number". It created some excitement in the shop.'
The lottery office was closed over Christmas, but when he got through to them he found he had won a major prize.
'The staff had a warm welcome for us and it was like entering Fort Knox going through the security and up the lifts before entering the big room,' he said. 'We were asked to watch a video of around five minutes explaining advice they give to all winners.'
It is not the first time the lucky priest has won on the lottery, previously picking up £16,908 on the Irish Sweepstakes – now known as the National Lottery – and also winning £2,219 and £3,369 from bets in the States.
However he has not won anything on this scale and vowed to share it around.
'I suppose you can say I am lucky. But I have always had a policy of sharing my luck around,' he said according to Dublin Live.
'That is something that my late mother taught me, and something that was also drummed into me when I was a young priest by a bishop.'
He said he made a regular habit of tithing part of his winnings and told Mayo News: 'I am a great believer in the 10 per cent tithe which is very much part of biblical tradition.'
He did not say what else he would spend the money on.