If the rightful owner of a ticket that won $70 million in a Lotto Max draw last year doesn’t come forward soon, it will expire and go down as the largest unclaimed prize in Canadian lottery history.
On Tuesday, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) encouraged people to check their tickets for the June 28, 2022 draw, noting the ticket that won the jackpot was sold in Toronto’s Scarborough area.
“This yet-to-be-claimed $70 million winning ticket will expire on June 28, 2023, unless the rightful ticket holder comes forward to OLG before then,” the OLG said.
OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti told Global News that if the winner doesn’t come forward soon, it will become the largest unclaimed prize in Canadian lottery history, surpassing a $15 million Lotto Max win from an August 2021 draw that was never claimed.
In that case, the winning ticket was bought in British Columbia.
“We’re hoping not to make history in this case,” Bitonti said.
“Someone out there bought a Lotto Max ticket — put down five, ten, (or) $15 — for a chance to win a $70 million jackpot. And in this case, they did. But no one’s come forward yet. And we’re in the business of paying lottery prizes and that’s what we want to do for the person that legitimately bought this ticket in the hopes of winning a prize.”
Bitonti said this is a “rare occurrence.”
“We do have a lottery prizes that go unclaimed each and every year, but this is the biggest one so far,” he said.
Bitonti said OLG records indicate that the $70 million winning ticket was never checked on the OLG app, in a store, or at a lottery terminal.
He said that leads him to believe that the ticket was lost.
“We’re urging people to check their pockets of pants, of jackets, purses, briefcases, backpacks, the junk drawer in the kitchen, glove compartments of their vehicles, sun visors — wherever a lottery ticket may be stored for safekeeping,” he said.
Even if the ticket was damaged, the OLG has a team that can work to rebuild tickets, he said.
The OLG has plenty of information in relation to the winning ticket — including where exactly it was sold, at what time, and how much the customer paid for it.
Bitonti said they are deliberately being vague, only saying that the ticket was bought somewhere in Scarborough, so that if a person does come forward claiming to be the rightful ticket holder, they can fill in the gaps.
“If you can answer those questions correctly, then our … investigative forensic team will take over, and they’ll do their due diligence to make sure that you are the legitimate, rightful owner of that ticket,” he said.
Even if the ticket was lost, if the OLG can verify the rightful owner of the ticket, the prize will still be paid out. It has happened before.
Several years ago, a Hamilton woman lost a Lotto Max ticket worth $50 million, having probably thrown it out.
The OLG conducted an investigation that included reviewing surveillance video and various facts about the ticket and its purchase, Bitonti said. After the review and being asked questions, the woman was then able to claim the prize without having the physical ticket.
In the case of the current unclaimed prize, surveillance video isn’t available, Bitonti said.
Bitonti said they have also seen cases of people coming in at the last minute to claim a prize with the ticket in hand.
A few years ago, a man from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., won around $500,000 on a ticket he put in a jacket. The weather got warmer, the jacket was put away, and the man only discovered the ticket after it got cooler and he wore the jacket again.
Since the OLG issued their statement Tuesday which said that the $70 million has yet to be claimed, Bitonti said they have been receiving many phone calls.
“It has been busy and not just for this for this prize claim. We do have a number of other prize claims that are about to expire as well,” he said, though it’s not yet clear if they’re any closer to finding the winner for the $70 million.
If the rightful owner does come forward shortly after the June 28 deadline, Bitonti said if they have a “legitimate reason” for being late, the OLG may still hand out a prize.
He said they have done that before for smaller prizes.
But at some point, the OLG has to account for the money and can’t offer it indefinitely, he said.
If the $70 million winning ticket expires, the money will used for future bonus games or promotions.
Bitonti said individuals can also play the lottery on OLG.ca — that way their ticket can’t be lost and if they win, they get an email.
The OLG said the winning numbers for the June 28, 2022 Lotto Max draw are 8, 19, 22, 41, 42, 46, 47 Bonus 10.
If someone believes they bought the winning ticket, they were encouraged to contact the OLG at 1-800-387-0098.
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