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Lotto NZ’s year of the missing millionaires

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Last year was a big one for Lotto NZ with 62 Kiwis becoming millionaires and an incredible 28 New Zealanders winning big with Powerball in 2020. While most people claimed their prizes straight away, 2020 was the year of the missing millionaire - with seven winners waiting at least a week to come forward - most completely oblivious they had become a multi-millionaire.

"Typically our big winners claim their millions within 24 hours - and we eagerly await contact from them - it's such a buzz to talk to someone who has literally just discovered they have won such an enormous amount of money," said Marie Winfield, Head of Communications and CSR for Lotto NZ.

"But what was really unique about 2020 is that we had to try and track a couple of winners down. Fortunately, we found them, or they eventually came forward on their own, and they now have a lot more zeros in their bank balance.

"Funnily enough most of them completely forgot they had even bought a ticket, or simply didn’t entertain the fact that they could have won.

"My advice for 2021 is to check your tickets - who knows, it could be you we’re greeting in the winner’s room!" said Marie.

A hunt for the missing $17.1 multi-millionaire started 2020 off with a bang, when the winning ticket, bought in The Market Store in Twizel, was left unclaimed for over three weeks. Lotto NZ announced that the winner had not come forward - and the nation waited and waited.......and waited. Many speculating that the ticket had been lost.

The South Island winner was in no rush to claim the life-changing prize, saying that once they realised they were the winner, they needed some time to let it sink in.

"I needed some time to process things. Once I heard about the big win, I checked my ticket and couldn’t believe it when I saw I had all of the numbers.

"I had to re-check the ticket multiple times before I was convinced that I had won - and even then, I kept going back and looking at the ticket to make sure I had got it right. I just couldn’t believe it," they said.

In June, an Auckland woman got the pleasant surprise of becoming New Zealand’s newest multi-millionaire while going on her usual Sunday walk.

"I buy tickets when I’m feeling lucky," said the woman. "I buy a dip ticket - I like to leave it to luck and chance."

The woman had bought her ticket earlier that week, popped it in her bag for safekeeping, and had forgotten all about it - completely unaware that there was a $10.3 million winning ticket on the loose.

In August, out of the 10 Powerball winners of the $50 million Powerball Must Be Won draw, just one wasn’t in a hurry to check her ticket.

The lucky winner, a woman from Napier, was completely oblivious that she had been carrying around a ticket worth $5 million in her handbag for a week. When her daughter phoned and encouraged her to check the ticket, she didn’t think she needed to bother.

"My daughter knows that I buy my tickets from the store that sold the winning one, but I just said "dream on!" laughed the lady. "It never occurred to me to check the ticket."

Most recently, in November, the Morrinsville missing millionaire was found when two people from Lotto NZ approached him to say that they thought he’d won the $5.5 million.

The winner was completely oblivious that he had been driving around with a multi-million dollar winning ticket in his glove box for nearly a month.

"My daughter had been hounding me to check my ticket, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it," said the man. "I never once thought I would be the lucky winner anyway - it’s unbelievable!"

"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," said the man. "I just kept thinking, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’… but they weren’t!" he said.

The two Lotto NZ employees who broke the good news to the man, said it was a memorable experience.

"It’s not every day you get to approach someone on the street and tell them that we think they are a multi-millionaire.

"They said the best thing was seeing the look on the man’s face when he checked the ticket and he realised they weren’t joking, describing it as ‘absolutely priceless,’" said Marie Winfield.

With a new year come new resolutions, so why not make it yours to check your Lotto tickets this year? Because if you do, you might just be Lotto NZ’s newest multi-millionaire!

Lotto NZ encourages any players who have bought their ticket from a winning store to write their name on the back of the ticket and check it as soon as possible at any Lotto NZ outlet, online at or through the Lotto NZ App.

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