By Fakiha Baig in Toronto
A $70 million Lotto Max ticket could become the largest unclaimed individual jackpot in the country if a winner doesn’t step forward to grab their prize next month, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation says.
The winning ticket was drawn in June 2022 and the person who bought it in the east Toronto neighbourhood of Scarborough has until June 28 of this year to claim the amount, said OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti.
“I live in a world of randomness and chance so I’m really hoping that the odds are this person comes forward to collect this money,” Bitonti said in an interview on Wednesday.
“The unclaimed ticket really does defy the odds but it does happen on occasion.”
Bitonti said, so far, the largest unclaimed jackpot on record is $15 million and that ticket was sold in British Columbia.
In the case of the unclaimed Lotto Max prize, Bitonti said that even if the winner or group of winners has lost the ticket, they can give the OLG a call and answer several questions – including about when, where and how they bought the ticket – to claim the big prize.
“We have a great forensics team and they can make the art of the impossible happen and they will make it happen,” he said.
The OLG is also keeping an eye on whether the winner has logged their ticket onto the Lotto Max app or scanned their ticket at an OLG location, but no bells have gone off so far, Bitonti said.
The forensics team would typically be going through the security footage of the store where the ticket was purchased to find the winner but the location where the winning ticket was sold doesn’t have video recordings, he said.
The corporation is asking anyone who may have purchased a ticket at a Scarborough lottery location to check their pockets, purses, laundry baskets, or anywhere else they could think of for the winning ticket.
Bitonti said there have been cases where people who’ve torn their tickets in the laundry have brought back pieces of their ticket and the OLG has been able to confirm its legitimacy.
The OLG has also seen people who’ve lost their winning ticket while switching between jackets as the seasons change, he said.
“I remember a gentleman from Ontario that did the exact same thing. Luckily he found that ticket within a couple of days before it expired and he claimed a $500,000 prize,” Bitonti said.
Once the OLG forensics team believes it has found a winner, it interviews several others who know the person to cover all bases.
“It has to be 100 per cent the rightful owner,” Bitonti said. “We do our due diligence.”
If a winner isn’t found, the unclaimed prize money goes back into the system. But Bitonti said the OLG is hopeful the $70-million jackpot winner will soon come forward.
“I love giving away the big cheques and celebrating our winners,” he said. “My fingers are crossed.”
Banner image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Doug Ives
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2023.