‘Very rare’: $1M lottery ticket sold in Toronto goes unclaimed

A file image of a Lotto Max display. Lars Hagberg / The Canadian Press

A $1 million lottery ticket sold in Toronto last year has gone unclaimed, as the deadline to claim two other big winners sold in the Greater Toronto Area is fast approaching.

The Ontario and Lottery Gaming Corporation (OLG) said a ticket sold for the June 15, 2021 Lotto Max draw won a $1 million maxmillion prize.

But OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti told Global News no claimed the ticket ahead of the one-year deadline on Wednesday.

“It is very, very rare that a prize of this amount goes unclaimed,” Bitonti said.

“And it’s unfortunate because we really do like to see these life-changing amounts of money go to the rightful owners of those tickets. Somebody bought a ticket for that draw, but maybe misplaced it, put it in a kitchen drawer, glove compartment.”

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Bitonti said the OLG deals with $2.4 billion in prize payouts each year and 99 per cent of tickets are claimed.

He said mostly it’s smaller prizes — $10, $20, or $100 — that go unclaimed, but a prize of this amount is unusual.

“When we get into the million-dollar range, it’s fairly rare,” Bitonti said.

“I do remember … there was a $5 million ticket sold somewhere in northeastern Ontario that went unclaimed and it was in the in the early 2000s when that went unclaimed. So, that was the largest prize that went unclaimed, but this one is a big one in our mind.”

Click to play video: 'Winner of $70 million LottoMax prize receives cheque in Montreal'
Winner of $70 million LottoMax prize receives cheque in Montreal

Bitonti said sometimes the OLG is able to do an investigation when the owner of a winning ticket has yet to come forward, as was the case several years ago when a Hamilton woman lost a ticket worth $50 million.

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The OLG conducted an investigation that included reviewing surveillance video and the woman’s credit card purchase of the ticket, he said. She was then able to claim the prize without having the physical ticket.

He said such investigations are done on a “case-by-case basis.”

Bitonti noted that whenever there are unclaimed prizes, the OLG lists them on its website and for larger prizes, it sends out press releases ahead of the deadline.

He said the OLG always asks people to check their tickets right away, sign them and place them in a conspicuous place. It’s also possible to register on and ticket holders will receive an email if they won, he said.

2 $100K tickets sold in GTA remain unclaimed

Meanwhile, there are two other tickets that were sold in the GTA, each worth $100,000, for the June 22, 2021 Lotto Max draw.

Both won Encore prizes. One was sold in Woodbridge and the other in Etobicoke.

“I checked with the price centre — no one’s claimed those tickets as of yet, but they still have a little bit of time,” Bitonti said.

“Make sure you check your pockets of jeans, jackets, everything.”

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According to the OLG website, the winning numbers for those tickets were 0683387.

Bitonti said winning tickets sold out of a lottery terminal have to be claimed within one year of the draw date. Instant tickets have a bit of a longer deadline.

But there are some cases where the OLG may award a prize even after the deadline has passed.

“There is still the potential for this, but it has to be a really, really good reason for the delay,” he said, adding that it would be done on a “case-by-case basis.”

As of now, the $1 million unclaimed prize is heading back into the Lotto Max pool.

“We do have to close the books on these prizes,” Bitonti said.

“We can’t have them extended for a while because of the accounting and we have to know whether these prices are going back into a jackpot or are going to be paid out or something along that line.”

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