A Hamilton woman is set to become $50 million richer — even though she lost her winning lottery ticket a year ago.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced Tuesday morning that Kathryn Jones is “one step closer” to claiming the outstanding $50-million jackpot from a Lotto Max draw on Nov. 30, 2012.
"The case of this outstanding $50-million Lotto Max jackpot is one of the most unique in OLG's history," said Rod Phillips, OLG's president and CEO.
Jones bought her ticket last year at a Shoppers Drug Mart on Dundas Street in Cambridge, where she works as an engineer.
She lost the ticket, but didn’t submit a claim.
Then, this fall, two OLG employees showed up at her door.
“We weren't sure we wanted to let them in the house,” Jones told CBC News. “Then they showed us their ID, so they came in and sat down and started asking a number of questions.”
The commission says it found Jones while investigating someone else’s claim. More than 400 people had stepped forward, claiming to be the missing winner of last year’s $50 million prize.
Jones had to follow an extensive process to be verified as the real winner.
“You try to brace yourself for ‘maybe this isn’t going to happen,’” Jones said during an OLG press conference on Tuesday morning.
A host of surveillance tools were used to determine Jones was the winner, including surveillance video at the store, a lengthy interview process, and proof of credit card purchase at the exact time and place where the $16 winning ticket was sold.
"By using our extensive investigative resources, we conducted a comprehensive prize claim review and collected indisputable proof to determine Ms. Jones as the identified winner," explained Phillips.
But there was another snag: during the OLG’s interviews, Jones mentioned that her sister owns a retail outlet in the Ottawa area that sells OLG lottery tickets.
Even though the winning ticket wasn’t bought at the Ottawa area store, that information triggered an additional review of her claim by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
The review finished Thursday, and there are no issues preventing a prize payout, the OLG says. The OLG’s policy is to hold the prize for a minimum of 30 days to publicize Jones’s claim to the cash. If no one else comes forward claiming it, it’s hers.
"I am still in shock and very grateful OLG approached me regarding the outstanding $50-million prize," said Jones. "I completely respect OLG's rules and processes. I now anxiously anticipate the end of the wait period."