Million-dollar lottery ticket expires after Gatineau buyer never showed up to claim winnings

The Loto-Quebec headquarters are seen in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

What would you do with $1 million?

The question has bewildered songwriters and cartoon villains for years. But what if you had the million, then lost it, without knowing it?

That was the unenviable experience of one Gatineau lottery winner who, until Monday, had the sole claim to a $1 million prize from Loto-Québec.

As of Jan. 4, the ticket had expired, and the winner could no longer claim their money, which has since been absorbed back into the company to be paid out in 'special' or 'bonus' draws.

The winning ticket was purchased on July 5, 2019. Loto-Québec still doesn’t know the identity of the winner, who never showed up to claim the prize.

“We published seven news releases,” wrote Renaud Dugas, spokesperson for Loto-Québec, in a statement to CTV News.

“We posted several alerts on our social media platforms and gave numerous interviews in hopes of finding the owner of the winning ticket,” he said.

“The one-year expiration date for this ticket was extended by six months due to the pandemic.”

It's rare for millions to go unclaimed in the lottery business. 

According to Dugas, 98 per cent of million-dollar winners claim their prize within two to three weeks from the draw. 

As of Jan. 6, Loto-Québec reported unclaimed winnings of $2.5 million, with a $1 million deadline looming on Jan. 22. 

That grand-prize winning ticket was sold in Thérèse-De-Blainville, with the number 5823177.

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