What Do You Do if You Lose $50 Million? Apparently Nothing

It’s the stuff cartoons are made of: a hapless rube poised on the edge of a steel construction girder teetering 30 storeys above street level, grabbing desperately at a winning lottery ticket as the wind carries it into the open, waiting jaws of a crocodile at the zoo next door.

Conventional wisdom has long held that winning tickets are like the cash they represent; lose them, and they’re gone for good.

This wasn’t the case for Hamilton Ontario resident Kathryn Jones, who was the unknowing winner of a $50 million payday for the better part of a year, after she bought­—and then lost—a lucky Lotto Max ticket. After someone made a false claim to the ticket, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) went looking for its rightful owner, using some right proper CSI-style investigative mojo.

After delving into credit card receipts and surveillance footage from the convenience store where the ticket was purchased, OLG reps showed up at Jones’s door to confirm her ID and tell her the good news, a mere two days before her claim to the ticket was set to expire.

The story underscores the degree to which society has changed from the days when clumsy cartoon characters from the 1940’s had to chase their winning wind-blown lotto tickets across busy freeways and into open manhole covers. Thanks to credit cards and surveillance cameras, we all leave an imminently traceable imprint on the grid. Whether we’ve won the lottery, or have failed to pay income tax on those winnings, they’ll find us. Oh, they’ll find us.