A LUCKY Black Cats bingo winner has finally claimed his prize after a bookmaker thought he had died of shock.
Avid Sunderland fan Ray Lee took six weeks to come forward and collect his £6,000 Fiat Panda which he won on William Hill’s bingo site.
Despite an article in the Echo and other calls in the media for the winner to come forward, Ray, a manager for Express Transport Company in Seaham, was blissfully unaware of his triumph.
The bookmaker was looking for a Durham winner with the internet account name Rayamok, but a search proved unsuccessful.
Moving houses from Shotton to Sedgefield and going to the U.S. on holiday for his 40th birthday meant that William Hill staff weren’t able to contact Ray.
The contest was thought of as cursed when it transpired that 75 per cent of prize winners couldn’t drive and another winner, in Scotland, had to cancel because she was due to give birth.
However, Ray’s wife Carolyn, 35, logged into an email account where she found messages of Ray’s big win.
Ray, who with Carolyn has sons Daniel, 18, and Adam, 14, said: “I was told that they thought I’d keeled over with shock of discovering the win.”
“We moved house from Shotton to Sedgefield, the MSN account wasn’t being used, we’d clearly not played bingo, we’d been away to Florida on holiday and were unaware of any search going on for us.
“It’s not like anyone informs a bookmaker of a change of address.”
However, Ray may not get to take advantage of the gift himself.
Ray added: “I’ve got a year-old Vauxhall Astra, but Carolyn and Daniel are eyeing up the car as an early Christmas present.