Claim for Nearly Forfeited CA$50 Million Lotto Max Ticket Shrouded with Controversy

The unclaimed British Columbia Lottery Corp. (BCLC) Lotto Max ticket that won the CA$ 50 million top prize of the March 14, 2014 draw has finally been turned in, five days before reaching its date of nullification. Although the BCLC immediately announced the handing-in and validation of the ticket as the genuine Lotto Max entry, the announcement of the winner’s identity has been delayed for about two weeks now, heightening speculations and controversy over the identity of the claimant.

A BCLC spokesperson Chris Fairclough, explained through an email that the ticket is still undergoing prize-claim validation procedures, for which there is no time limit to observe. However, notification about the claim was made ahead of the completion of the verification process, given the unprecedented level of public interest over the nearly expired winning lottery ticket.

Laura Piva-Babcock, the Manager of Media & Issues Management at BCLC remarked that they have experienced 11 months of speculations and rumours about Lotto Max 3- 4-5-7-31-33-40 with a bonus number of 49, purchased in Langley, and drawn as the winning ticket in March 14, 2014. Ms. Babcock commented that winners taking their time in coming forward to claim their respective prize are common, especially if the amount involved is big.

In fact, some prizes expired and actually went unclaimed, citing as example a Lotto 6/49 sweepstake purchased and drawn in Alberta, Canada. It won CA$14.9 million, the largest amount of jackpot that expired in 2006. Nonetheless, she explained that unclaimed prizes go back to the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation’s prize pool, as available funds for use in prizing and promotions available to all lottery players.

Still, Lindsay Meredith, a Marketing Professor at the Beedie School of Business in Vancouver, BC opined that the length of time taking the BCLC to come out with a notification about the identity of the winner, makes it clear that something is amiss. According to the Beedie professor, lottery corporations require the winner to come forward so they can put a face next to the big check handed over. This is because it is the most effective form of advertising aimed at increasing lottery ticket sales for the lottery corporation.

The most notable speculation that has been circulating throughout the province is the ticket’s connection to a lawsuit filed last year by a Burquitlam Shoppers Drug Mart employee named Gayleen Elliott against co-worker Dalbir Sidhu. Ms. Elliot contends that Sidhu, who manages the employee lottery pool, has been concealing and denying the purchase of a lottery ticket for the March 14, 2014, which she and other co-employees suspect is the unclaimed winning ticket for the said draw date.

Sidhu claims that he committed an error in recording the Lotto Max ticket purchased using the employee lottery pool, saying he had mistakenly entered the March 07 Lotto Max results as the results for the March 14, 2014 draw date. He only learned about his mistake in September 2014, upon receiving a BCLC validation letter secured by Mr. Elliott, confirming that the lottery pool’s selected number was not played in the March 14, 2014 draw. Sidhu asserted that it was only then that he realized that he

forgot to purchase a ticket for that particular draw date due to the recording error previously committed.

Ms. Elliot’s lawyer says they have no intention of dropping the lawsuit against Sidhu at this point, now that the winning lottery ticket has been handed in. He added that they have maintained communications with the BCLC in connection with the ongoing identity authentication and investigation processes.