$70 Million Ticket Could Be Largest Unclaimed Prize In Canadian Lottery History

Written By Matthew Lomon on May 29, 2023
Unclaimed $70 million Lotto Max prize

In less than a month, a $70 million Ontario lottery ticket will expire. If the winner fails to come forward before then, the ticket will go on record as the largest unclaimed prize in Canadian lottery history.

Eager to crown the rightful winner, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is urging players to check their tickets. According to officials, the winning voucher was drawn on June 28, 2022, and sold in the Scarborough region of Toronto.

Under OLG’s terms and conditions, all lottery tickets expire exactly one year from their draw date. Therefore, this particular draw will expire on June 28, 2023.

If the situation remains static, the outstanding ticket will shatter the previous high for an unclaimed win. In August 2021, a British Columbia lottery draw produced a $15 million prize, but the winner never emerged.

If the $70 million prize is not claimed in time, the OLG said the money will be returned to players through future bonus games or promotions.

OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti is hoping to avoid history repeating itself, this time, on a much larger scale.

“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.”

Unclaimed prizes a “rare occurrence,” per Bitonti

While most lottery winners move swiftly to claim their prizes, Bitonti noted that, although rare, tickets do go unclaimed every year.

There could be a million reasons why winners fail to claim their prize, some within their control and some beyond. But in the case of the $70 million winner, OLG records show no signs of anyone checking the ticket on the OLG app, in a store, or at a lottery terminal.

For Bitonti, such evidence suggests a lost ticket.

“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.

Taking things a step further, he says the OLG can work to rebuild tickets should they sustain any damage.

At the moment, very little information outside the general location of the ticket sale is available to the public. However, the OLG knows which store sold it, at what time, and how much the customer paid for it.

Bitonti says the OLG’s vagueness is a deliberate choice to help narrow down the potential list of winners.

“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.”

Even if lost, winning ticket can still be paid out

Luckily, if Bitonti’s hunch is correct, the winner of the $70 million prize can still receive their money. In fact, it’s been done before.

In 2o12, a Hamilton woman lost a Lotto Max ticket worth $50 million, most likely throwing it in the garbage. Soon after, the OLG launched an investigation that included reviewing surveillance video and other facts about the purchase of the ticket. From there, they were able to locate the woman, ask her a few questions, and pay out her big win.

Unfortunately, as Bitonti notes, there is no surveillance video available in the case of the $70 million prize. But there are still ways for the OLG to work around it.

OLG phone lines buzzing since announcement of $70 million prize

Since their statement on May 23, the OLG has been receiving calls from supposed winners non-stop. Though this process is nothing new for a corporation handing out multi-million dollar prizes, it has been able to facilitate inquiries into other outstanding prizes as well.

“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,” said Bitonti.

It does, however, remain unclear if they’re any closer to finding the winner of the $70 million prize.

In the event that the rightful owner comes forward shortly after the June 28 deadline, Bitonti says the OLG may still honour the victory if the winner offers a “legitimate reason” for being late.

This is something the OLG has done before, albeit for smaller prizes.

But the gesture will not last forever. If the ticket expires, the $70 million will instead go towards future bonus games or promotions.

Bitonti also mentioned that lottery games are available on OLG.ca. Here, players cannot lose their ticket(s), and will receive an email if they are victorious.

Until then, the OLG will continue its search to help one lucky winner avoid landing on the wrong side of history.

The winning number from the June 28, 2022, Lotto Max draw are: 8, 19, 22, 41, 42, 46, 47 Bonus 10. 

Photo by PlayCanada
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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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