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Nick of time: N.Z. man claims lottery prize 1 day before expiration

Apr 20, 2010, 10:11 am

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Talk about cutting it close.

A man in Auckland, New Zealand claimed his lottery prize of $391,581 just 24 hours before the ticket would have expired.

He had kept the ticket in a drawer a year ago and forgotten about it.

The first division winning ticket was sold 12 months ago in Ponsonby.

"As far as we're aware this is the first time a major prize has been claimed the day before its expiry date. If the winner had waited another day he would have unfortunately received nothing," Fox News quoted NZ Lotteries chief executive Todd McLeay as saying.

The winner, who did not want to be identified, said, "It's been a stressful year and I completely forgot I had the ticket, until Saturday when I opened the drawer.

"It was a bit faded but I noticed the date on it and thought I'd better get down to the shop quick just in case I'd won anything."

The winner was completely unaware of the recent media coverage surrounding the large unclaimed prize.

The largest prize that expired unclaimed in recent times was a $3 million Lotto prize that was sold in Masterton in early 2003.

Up to three percent of all NZ Lotteries' prizes are unclaimed in an average year. The unclaimed prizes are transferred to the prize reserve fund where they are used to fund jackpots and promotional prizes.

"This is a great reminder for all Lotto players to check their drawers, couches, cupboards, cars, books and coats for any unchecked tickets," said McLeay.

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