Lotto hunts down winner after $5.5 million ticket unclaimed

A man from Morrinsville has claimed his $5.5m prize almost a month after the Lotto draw. Photo:...
A man from Morrinsville has claimed his $5.5m prize almost a month after the Lotto draw. Photo: Supplied
When the winner of a $5.5 million Lotto Powerball prize went unclaimed for almost a month, officials took the unusual step to try to find the ticket-holder.

They would find him in Morrinsville - still completely oblivious to the fact he had a golden ticket gathering dust in the glovebox of his car.

It had been there nearly a month after it struck big on Saturday, October 17.

The ticket was sold at the Paper Plus Morrinsville store on Studholme St, Morrinsville.

"My daughter had been hounding me to check my ticket, but I just hadn't gotten around to it," the man, who wanted to stay anonymous, said in a statement.

"I never once thought I would be the lucky winner anyway. It's unbelievable!

"Next time, I'll listen to my daughter when she tells me to check my ticket," he laughed.

Lotto NZ staff moved to try to track down the winner after several weeks had passed without anyone coming forward to claim the life-changing prize.

A spokeswoman said a digital footprint helped them to find the man, who was able to provide the ticket when approached by two Lotto employees.

Looking back at that moment, the man said: "It was such a shock when the Lotto people approached me and told me they thought I was the owner of a ticket worth $5.5 million.

Life-changing moment

"I just kept thinking: 'You've got to be kidding me'. But they weren't.

"They asked me if I had my ticket with me - which I did. So we checked off the numbers manually using the Lotto NZ app.

"All of them matched and the first thing the lady said was to write my name on the back.

"That's when it hit me and I thought: 'Oh my God. This is life-changing'."

The winner went home to tell his wife and also gave his daughter a call.

"I just called her and said: 'Guess what'?"

The family travelled to Lotto NZ's head office, in Auckland, this week to officially claim their huge win - which is now in his bank account.

The man says the money will be used to help make a difference in his family and their futures.

"We've not made any big decisions yet, but we'd really like to pay off the mortgage first," he said.

"After that, I want to make sure my kids are set up for the future. Those are the two biggest things."

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