Jack Knox: Even map dowser couldn’t turn up $1M lotto ticket

Jack Knox mugshot genericThis hurts. Hurts almost as much as Canada’s loss to Finland in the world juniors. Worse, if you’re a lottery player.

A $1-million lottery ticket that was sold in Victoria expired Thursday, one year to the day after it was drawn.

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When the B.C. Lottery Corp. announced two weeks ago that it was still looking for the holder of a ticket bearing all 10 digits — 18923844-07 — from the Lotto 6/49 guaranteed prize draw held Jan. 3, 2018, it set off a frenzy of modern-day gold mining — though instead of panning creek beds, Islanders went fishing through glove compartments and coat pockets.

It wasn’t just that people wanted to find the wayward ticket themselves.

They wanted someone to find it. The idea of a million bucks going unclaimed appalls any wage slave whose retirement plans are predicated on A) saying yes to the Extra and B) praying.

“These are life-changing amounts of money,” said BCLC spokesman Evan Kelly.

I even got a call from Peter Sewell, a Lower Mainland man who was enlisted by a Victoria friend to use his map-dowsing skills to look for the ticket.

Map-dowsing? Yes, it’s a thing. Google it. You know how dowsers look for underground water sources by holding out a couple of sticks? Map dowsers claim the ability to locate missing objects by poring over maps.

Sewell, 77, got a strong signal from an address in Saanich, but when his Victoria friend left a letter at the house, offering to help search the premises, the homeowners grew suspicious.

“They called the cops,” he said.

Sewell doesn’t blame them. He knows dowsing sounds weird — though he says he has a solid record of discoveries over the past quarter century, including finding buried pipes for the California parks service and a Roman well beneath a British castle.

Homeowner Greg Russell said yes, he called the police because the letter sounded like some sort of burglar’s house-casing scam, but the subsequent police investigation found nothing to worry about.

And no, he doesn’t figure the expired ticket is in his home.

“I don’t think I’ve ever bought a lottery ticket in Victoria.”

Still, the slim chance that the ticket was languishing under the chesterfield proved too tempting for Russell and his wife to ignore. “We have looked through the house, just in case.”

The Lottery Corp., citing security, won’t reveal precisely where in Victoria the ticket was sold — which might leave the city’s lotto vendors wondering if they’re losers, too.

Had the ticket been redeemed, the seller would have earned a $2,000 reward.

Whoever bought the ticket isn’t the first person to miss out on a million. Four other $1 million prizes have gone unclaimed in B.C. the past 10 years. That’s out of a total of $5.2 million in unclaimed winnings (or make that $6.2 million, as of Thursday).

When that happens with one of the nationally run games like 6/49 or Lotto Max, the money goes back into the prize pot. When it’s a BCLC-operated game like the BC/49, the cash goes to the provincial government.

Three dozen British Columbians won prizes of more than $1 million last year. They should be joined by whoever bought a $39.5-million Lotto Max ticket that was sold in south Delta and drawn on Dec. 28.

Should, that is, unless the as-yet-unredeemed ticket isn’t lost in the toe of a now-packed-away Christmas stocking, or didn’t go up the chimney with the wrapping paper.

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