A Hamilton store owner who has a ticket for half of a $32 million lottery jackpot last summer is one step closer to claiming his half of the prize.
Myungsu You was one of two players who held a winning ticket for the June 30, 2012 draw for $32 million, entitling him to $16.1 million. The other winner, Terry Hostikka of Brantford, claimed his winnings within a few days of the draw.
But because he owns a store that also sells lottery tickets, You has been waiting months to get his hands on the millions as part of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission's "Insider Win" process.
"It doesn't mean there is anything suspicious," Sarah Kiriliuk, a spokesperson for the OLG, explained. "It just means we have to do our due diligence."
The process is required for any winner who can be deemed an insider: either they work for OLG, own or work for a business that sells OLG lottery tickets, or are related to someone who does.
The first step is a third-party investigation — which You has just completed — to ensure they've followed the rules for playing the lottery as an insider.
"They're not allowed to purchase from their own store or use their self-scanner to check the ticket," Kiriliuk said. "Basically, they're not allowed to have any contact with their own location. It makes it easy for retailers to play without having any suspicions."
You, who owns Cumberland Market on Cumberland Avenue, bought his ticket at the Metro Centre Mall on Barton Street. He didn't bring in the winning stub for a few months after the draw, though Kiriliuk wasn't sure why.
"He may have forgotten about the ticket. I won't know until I can talk to him myself," she said.
Now that You has been cleared by the investigation, he must wait out a 30-day period to allow any other claimants to come forward. If all goes well, he'll have the cheque presented to him on March 22.
The lengthy protocols were put into place after the OLG faced heat several years ago for accusations of disproportionate insider wins, including a police investigation and a report from the province's ombudsman.
Now, the OLG takes no risks when it comes to clearing insider wins, particularly when those wins are multimillion-dollar prizes.
"This is a really large one. We don't have a lot of really large insider wins," Kiriliuk said.
"We want to make sure the integrity of the prize process is air-tight, so that no one can question we gave the right prize to the right person."