£24M Lotto Winner’s Mother Kept Lucky Ticket In Glass Jar For Safety

It is a particularly Italian Catholic tradition to keep the relics of a saint on display in a prominent place where the faithful can gaze on them in wonder and quiet contemplation.

So it may have seemed natural for Maria Riselli to store her son’s lottery ticket in a glass jar, where she could see it was still safe each time she walked past it.

Her precaution – and perhaps her faith – paid off when Camelot confirmed that Amo Riselli’s lucky ticket had won him nearly £25 million on Lotto, after matching just five numbers and the bonus ball.

Mr Riselli, 50, from Gloucester, scooped £24,501,283 in the must-be-won Lotto after the jackpot rolled down to those who had matched five numbers and the bonus ball.

Like all good Italian boys Mr Riselli trusted to his mother when it came to the important task of looking after the ticket while he waited for Camelot’s offices to re-open after the Christmas break to confirm he had won.

Mrs Riselli, who turns 80 in February, dutifully placed it in the empty jar and placed it in a cupboard at her home, checking on it each time she went past.

The family, including Mr Riselli’s four brothers and sisters and his five daughters, celebrated Christmas as normal while waiting for the opportunity to confirm their good fortune.

Knowing the ticket matched the winning numbers they naturally allowed themselves a glass of champagne at New Year’s Eve

And like a good family man Mr Riselli, a cab driver, still drove his customers to and fro over the festive period, despite knowing he might soon be able to hang up his keys for good.

Speaking at the Hatherley Manor Hotel, near Gloucester, he said: “I will miss all my friends at work as we really have a laugh together, but I’ve decided I’m going to retire – just because now I can.”

News of his win quickly reached Italy, from where both his parents originate, and relatives have been queuing up to congratulate him on his good luck.

He was due a change in fortune. In 2013 Mr Riselli suffered a heart attack and later that year his partner Donna Sciberras, the mother of two of his children, died after herself suffering a heart attack at their home at Christmas.

But according to neighbours Mr Riselli carried on working 70 hours-a-week shifts in order to provide for his family.

Mr Riselli is now planning to use some of the money to buy a Ferarri and a four-bedroom house with a swimming pool, but says he has no plans to move away from the Gloucester area, where he has lived all his life.

He is also going to celebrate by arranging a party to thank his colleagues from the Grosvenor taxi rank, where he was self-employed for 12 years.

Mr Riselli is also planning to take his family on a holiday to Las Vegas, but he has no plans to become a high roller..

“I’m not going to play the lottery any more, as I’ve already conquered that ‘big win’ – it is someone else’s turn now,” he said. “I may now be a multi-millionaire but I am still the same normal person I always was, just with a bit more loose change in my pocket.”

As was his habit Mr Riselli bought his winning ticket from Seymour Road Post Office, Gloucester, purchasing three lines for the Lotto draws on Wednesday and Saturday and saving up a batch to get them all checked at the same time.

After scanning the first ticket, the terminal in his local shop made an unusual noise and Mr Riselli was told he had matched five main numbers plus the bonus ball and should contact Camelot.

Taking the printout from the machine, he ran next door to his sister Lisa’s hair salon and excitedly shouted he had won the lottery, thinking at first he had pocketed a £240,000 win.

He said: “I try to get my tickets checked in the same shop and I have always said: ‘One day this machine is going to start smoking red hot because I will have hit the big one.’

“I can’t believe that it’s actually happened to me for real! I then called my brother Marco. I was shaking like a leaf and I told him I’d won £240k. He asked what numbers I’d got and when I told him he cried: ‘You’ve won the whole jackpot of £24 million.”

The Lotto jackpot is capped at £22 million and once it is reached the sum has to be won in the next draw.

This means either a player will match all six numbers or the jackpot money will roll down into the next winning prize tier.

In the draw on December 27 no one matched all six and Mr Riselli was the only player to match five and the bonus ball. The main numbers were 18, 36, 48, 57, 58, 59 and the bonus ball was 50.

“It’s an amazing feeling and I’m absolutely over the moon,” he said.

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