$22m Lotto winner tracked down

A knock on a Christchurch man's door has changed his life, after it emerged he was sitting on a $22.6 million winning Lotto ticket, and didn't realise.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, will be celebrating tonight after Lotto New Zealand officials tracked him down in a bid to find the Big Wednesday ticket winner after the prize lay unclaimed for weeks.

But he didn't believe them at first.

"They said, 'I think you're our Big Wednesday winner'. I just said, 'nah, it's never me'," he said.

"I knew somebody already won that prize - a guy at work told me."

Believing that someone else had won, the man had decided there was no point in checking his ticket.

"This guy was sitting on a winning ticket worth $22.6 million and, as incredible as it sounds, he may have never checked it," said Chris Lyman chief operating officer for Lotto NZ.

"It took some convincing to encourage him to check his ticket."

Mr Lyman and his team had decided to take matters into their own hands after more than three weeks passed without anyone claiming the multi-million dollar ticket.

"When someone wins a prize this big, we usually hear from the winner within days, if not hours," said Mr Lyman, adding they were "worried that someone may have lost the ticket or forgotten they'd bought it".

They used their gaming system to find specific information about the winning ticket and asked the staff at Pak' n Save Riccarton, where it was bought for the September 25 draw, for help in tracking down the winner.

They soon found themselves on the front steps of the lucky Christchurch man's house.

"The first I had any clue was when there was a knock at my door," he said.

But the good news has started to sink in.

"I can just live on the interest," the man laughed.

"I don't want to work until I'm 65 - and now I don't have to."

And despite being the winner of the largest-ever lottery prize in the South Island, the man is determined it won't change his life dramatically.

"I love Christchurch and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Maybe now I can build the house of my dreams here," he said.

The $22.6 million prize in the third largest prize won in a Big Wednesday draw, and one of the top eight prizes won across all lottery games in New Zealand.

- Patrice Dougan of APNZ

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