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$50M Lotto Max win can buy anything except anonymity

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Former lottery winners say lucky ticket holder should prepare for wave of unwanted attention

The hucksters started calling only hours after Brenda Schley’s good fortune was announced.

Strange cars turned up outside her Clearwater, B.C., home. Then strangers began rubbing the 57-year-old for luck.

And that win only involved $1.75 million.

“It’s almost scary,” says Schley, a year after matching six out of six numbers on a Lotto 6/49 draw.

“We had to leave the house for about 10 days because the phone was ringing off the hook.”

A very public windfall

Schley says she can’t imagine the spotlight awaiting the holder of a $50 million winning Lotto Max ticket who stepped forward this week after waiting nearly a year to claim the prize.

Like it or not, their days of anonymity are about to end.

“I think people think that they have a choice that they can just say ‘I’m not going to tell anyone if I won the money’,” Schley says.

“I’ve heard people say that — but I know that’s not the way it works.”

In fact, one of the conditions of receiving a prize from the B.C. Lottery Corporation is consenting to the release of your name and photo as the winner of the prize. Similar rules govern other Canadian lotteries.

“The minute a player hands over his three or five dollars and purchases a lottery ticket, he is agreeing to those conditions,” says BCLC’s Chris Fairclough.

Lotteries generate an incredible public interest, he says.

“Our job is to pay out the rightful ticket winner and to ensure transparency so that the public — and lottery players — know that there are indeed winners.”

‘People know a lot about you’

In the wake of lawsuits and expos é s about crooked lottery retailers claiming prizes for themselves, the desire for transparency on behalf of gaming giants is understandable.

But that doesn’t make the spotlight any easier to endure, one winner says.

“I would have liked the option for it to be private,” says one Vancouver Island winner.

CBC has agreed not to name the woman, who won a million dollars in 2014, and was reluctant to expose herself to publicity and fraudsters again.

Her picture is among dozens on BCLC’s website featuring dazed winners struggling to hold up giant cheques overflowing with reams of zeroes.

She says she understands the need to advertise and the public’s desire to know, not to mention a lack of sympathy for lottery winners: “But suddenly — people know a lot about you.”

Winners offered a choice

By contrast, the licensed operator of the UK National Lottery, Camelot, offers winners the choice of anonymity.

And six U.S. states also allow lottery winners to keep their identities private: Delaware, Maryland, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina.

The office of B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner says they received a complaint several years ago about BCLC’s use of lottery winners’ personal information for marketing purposes.

They wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the case.

In pushing for anonymity, U.S.legislators have argued more than just embarrassment is at stake.

In 2013, a Chicago dry-cleaner was poisoned with cyanide hours after collecting on a $1 million scratch-and-win prize. And a Florida woman was convicted of murdering a man who publicly won a $30 million jackpot in 2006; she befriended him, killed him, buried him in her yard and then took control of his assets.

The lucky bear

Chinese mega-lottery winners have to endure a live televised broadcast of their win.

But unlike shy Canadians, they can hide behind costumes. That’s led to a series of bizarre cheque acceptance ceremonies involving a Panda, Mickey Mouse and a giant yellow bear.

The cute factor may not be as high, but several Massachusetts lottery winners have also managed to obscure their identities by sending lawyers and accountants to accept prizes on behalf of hastily drawn up legal trusts.

Fairclough doubts that would be possible in B.C.

“When someone does purchase a ticket, it’s an actual individual that purchases the ticket,” he says. “An actual ticket holder must come forward to ensure that they are the legal rightful holder of that ticket before we’ll pay it out.”

Schley says she doesn’t ultimately have a problem with the publicity.

“It’s just something you have to learn and learn how to deal with anyway,” she says. “People are going to find out anyway.”

And even had she dressed as a giant yellow bear, it’s doubtful Schley could have kept the win secret in her community — Clearwater has a population of just over 2,300.

But she says her neighbours were never the problem.

After waiting almost a year to claim a $50 million prize, the holder of a winning Lotto Max ticket is about to endure a tsunami of publicity. That's because the B.C. Lottery Corporation insists on its right to publish the names of people who win.

Canada Lotto Max FAQs

Get answers to all the most common questions about Lotto Max, including your chances of winning and the cost of a ticket.

  • When does the Lotto Max draw take place?
  • What time do Lotto Max ticket sales close?
  • How do I win prizes playing Lotto Max?
  • Can I play Lotto Max if I do not live in Canada?
  • If I win, how long do I have to claim a prize?
  • How old do I have to be to play Canada Lotto Max?
  • Are winnings on Lotto Max taxable?
  • What are the odds of winning a prize on Lotto Max?
  • What are the odds of winning a MaxMillions prize?
  • Does the Lotto Max have a minimum guaranteed jackpot?
  • Does the Lotto Max have a rollover limit or jackpot cap?
  • What is the biggest jackpot ever won on Lotto Max?
  • Why do draw times vary so much?
  • What is MaxMillions?
  • What happens to MaxMillions prizes that are not won?
  • When is the next Lotto Max draw?
  • What is the current value of the Lotto Max jackpot?
  • Will the next Lotto Max draw feature MaxMillions draws?
  • How much does it cost to play the Canada Lotto Max?

Question: When does the Lotto Max draw take place?

Answer: Lotto Max draws are held on Tuesday and Friday nights, at 21.15 ET.

Question: What time do Lotto Max ticket sales close?

Answer: Cut-off times for buying Lotto Max tickets vary between provinces, so it’s a good idea to check with local lottery officials if you’re not sure when ticket sales stop on Tuesday and Friday evenings. If you buy tickets through an online concierge, you may need to purchase your tickets up to three hours before sales are closed in Canada.

Question: How do I win prizes playing Lotto Max?

Answer: The Lotto Max jackpot is won by matching all seven main draw numbers, however, there are a range of prizes available, from matching just three balls for a free play upwards.

Question: Can I play Lotto Max if I do not live in Canada?

Answer: Yes. Tickets for Lotto Max are available to buy online from a concierge service, which allows players who live outside of participating countries to play lottery games from around the world.

Question: If I win, how long do I have to claim a prize?

Answer: Lotto Max prizes expire 12 months after the date of the draw.

Question: How old do I have to be to play Canada Lotto Max?

Answer: You must be at least 18 years old to play Lotto Max in Alberta, Manitoba, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territories. In British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island you must be at least 19 years old. Players who live outside Canada and buy tickets through a concierge must be at least 18.

Question: Are winnings on Lotto Max taxable?

Answer: There is no tax payable on Lotto Max prizes.

Question: What are the odds of winning a prize on Lotto Max?

Answer: Players have a 1 in 7 chance of winning any prize on Lotto Max and the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 33,294,800.

Question: What are the odds of winning a MaxMillions prize?

Answer: The odds of winning a MaxMillions prize are the same as that of the jackpot – 1 in 28,633,528.

Question: Does the Lotto Max have a minimum guaranteed jackpot?

Answer: Yes, the minimum jackpot is CA$10million.

Question: Does the Lotto Max have a rollover limit or jackpot cap?

Answer: The Lotto Max jackpot is capped at CA$70 million.

Question: What is the biggest jackpot ever won on Lotto Max?

Answer: The biggest ever Lotto Max jackpot was worth CA$70 million and has been won on multiple occasions.

Question: Why do draw times vary so much?

Answer: When the Lotto Max jackpot is under CA$50 million, only one draw takes place, with results available shortly afterwards. However, if MaxMillions draws are in play, each CA$1 million prize has a separate draw, which means the draw can take some time. Often this can mean full results will not be available until the following day.

Question: What is MaxMillions?

Answer: : MaxMillions is an additional game, which comes into play whenever the Lotto Max jackpot exceeds CA$50 million. A number of extra prizes, worth CA$1 million, are introduced alongside the main draw. Each MaxMillions prize has its own draw, where seven numbers are randomly chosen from a pool of 50; match all seven numbers with the numbers on your Lotto Max ticket, and you could win CA$1 million. Since MaxMillions is supplementary, and played alongside the main Lotto Max draw, players have more chances to win a six-figure prize.

Question: What happens to MaxMillions prizes that are not won?

Answer: In the event that no player wins any of the MaxMillions prizes, the prizes will roll over to the following draw. If the jackpot for the following draw is below CA$50 million, they will be added to the Lotto Max jackpot. However, if the MaxMillions are still in play they will remain as MaxMillions prizes and will increase the total for that week.

Question: When is the next Lotto Max draw?

Answer: The next Lotto Max draw will take place on Friday 22nd January 2021.

Question: What is the current value of the Lotto Max jackpot?

Answer: The next Lotto Max jackpot will be worth CA$60,000,000.

Question: Will the next Lotto Max draw feature MaxMillions draws?

Answer: Yes.

Question: How much does it cost to play the Canada Lotto Max?

Answer: For $5 you receive 3 sets of numbers to play.

Answers to the most frequently asked Canada Lotto Max questions, such as when the draw takes place, the next jackpot and how to claim a prize. ]]>