Jack Knox: Your $1 million lottery ticket is set to expire

Jack Knox mugshot genericHere’s a lottery player’s nightmare: A winning $1-million 6/49 ticket will expire unless the person who bought it in Victoria claims the prize in the next two weeks.

Quick, look down the back of the couch. Now.

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It’s true. The B.C. Lottery Corp. says someone in Victoria bought a ticket that matched all 10 digits — 18923844-07 — in the Lotto 6/49 guaranteed prize draw held Jan. 3. No, they can’t say where in the city it was purchased.

If the ticket is not redeemed by midnight this coming Jan. 3, it will be valueless — Cinderella’s coach turned into a pumpkin, poof.

At the lottery corporation, they’re holding out hope that someone will stumble through the doors before that happens.

“It’s extremely rare that large prizes go unclaimed,” says spokesman Evan Kelly.

It does happen, though: In B.C., four prizes of $1 million each — two from Lotto Max tickets and two from the 6/49 — have gone unclaimed in the past 10 years.

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

All this leads to a few thoughts:

A) Don’t you feel better about the $10 scratch-and-win that you accidentally sent up the chimney last Christmas?

B) What would you do if you found the winning ticket in your overcoat pocket on Jan. 4?

C) Have you ever watched Waking Ned Devine? It’s a charming little 1998 movie about the people of an Irish village conspiring to claim the winnings of a man who expired before his ticket did.

D) If the idea of missing out on $1 million drives you crazy, then you’ll go barking-at-the-moon, voting-for-Trump nuts when you read this: Someone has yet to claim the $1.5 billion US prize from the Mega Millions draw Oct. 23.

The single most valuable lottery ticket in U.S. history, it was purchased in Simpsonville, South Carolina. If not redeemed by April 19, it will be as worthless as your first husband.

The Mega Millions winner isn’t the only one with something to lose should the ticket not be redeemed. The convenience store vendor who sold it won’t collect a $50,000 bonus.

It’s not clear whether whoever sold the winning ticket in Victoria will be able to collect the couple of grand he would be due should the winner not step forward.

If the ticket-holder does emerge, let’s hope he or she at least has the good grace to emulate Vancouver Island’s greatest lottery winner of all time, Vinnie Parker, who was a 51-year-old Zeballos logger living in an 18-foot travel trailer when he won $1 million in 1999.

A disturbing number of lottery winners husband their windfalls cautiously, thereby betraying their moral responsibility to go a wee bit wacky — using $100 bills to light $50 cigars — on behalf of those wage slaves whose retirement plans are predicated on saying yes to the Extra. Not Parker. Dragged in front of the media, he became instantly, if fleetingly, famous when he outlined his plans for the money: “I’m going to blow it.”

A Barracuda man, he planned to buy some muscle cars. He was going to build his own RV park so that he and his buddies could party without being hassled like they were in the municipally owned one. (“Just to piss the mayor off.”) He was going to get his dog laid.

“If there’s anything worse than me having an attitude, it’s me having the same attitude and having money,” he told the Times Colonist’s Carla Wilson.

After he died at age 63, Parker’s friends confirmed that he did indeed burn through his winnings in six months or so — though in doing so he was awfully generous to those around him, from buying mini-quads for the town’s kids to ride to quietly slipping cash to those who needed it most.

Somewhere in Victoria — in a desk drawer, forgotten in an old pair of pants — is the ticket that, if found in the next couple of weeks, could give us the next Vinnie.

Check your couch.

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