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Lottery joy as OFT team scoop £700,000 winnings

Pic: Johnny Bugeja

Disbelief and sheer joy came over the team at the Office of Fair Trading who jointly won the £700,000 top prize in the Gibraltar Government Christmas Lottery draw.
The 12 staff members will split the winnings, taking home just over £58,000 each, a “big boost” that has helped them finish what has proved to be a difficult year on a high.
Administrative Assistant, Robert Reading, was the holder of the ticket and told the Chronicle how he had to scramble home to hold the winning ticket as he couldn’t believe his luck.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“I was around my family, we all started shouting and calling our loved ones and it was amazing.”
“I was in my mum’s house having dinner and I didn’t have the tickets in front of me.”
“I had the numbers but I wanted the actual lottery in front of me, so I had to run home, look for it and I confirmed it was there - It was a lovely experience.”
Mr Reading said how the win had come at a perfect time and was much needed following an unprecedented year which has seen him have to cancel his wedding and deal with tragedy.
“It’s perfect timing, you know it has been a horrible year for everyone,” he said.
“Personally, I’ve had to cancel my wedding and we’ve also had family tragedy but fortunately now the year will finish on a high.”
“Covid permitting, next year is my wedding so there is a very good honeymoon to come.”
His disbelief of having won was shared by his co-worker Karina Chipolina Bentaleb, who initially confused the good news for that of bad following a slew of messages into the work group chat.
“I got a call from one of our colleagues asking whether it was true but I had no idea what she was on about and I saw in the office chat there was over 50 messages,” she said.
“The way she was asking was quite serious as well so I thought something had happened in a bad way, I thought ‘oh my god what’s happened?’ and then she told me that we had won the lottery.”
Following the revelation of the lottery win, Ms Chipolina Bentaleb recounted how she did not believe the news, she challenged it and passed it off as a practical joke.
“Initially, I didn’t believe it,” she said.
“I thought it was Robert playing a joke, so I called him as he was on the way home and asked if he’d made sure that the numbers were correct and, in fact, he confirmed we had won.”
“It was a happy feeling; I was particularly happy because it has been won by all of us.”
“It has been a rough year for many of us, so this has come as a big boost.”
“I think we all deserve it - I am happy when we hear that other colleagues and offices win the lottery, but we deserve it as well, so I was very happy.”
“It was totally unexpected and it has been the first year that I haven’t watched the lottery live so I was completely unaware.”
“It is perfect timing for Christmas and hopefully, Covid permitting, I will find something to do with my family and the money will no doubt go a long way.”

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