Mystery $17.1m Lotto winner finally steps forward

The lucky person who won a massive $17.1 million Powerball prize last year has finally claimed their winnings.

Lotto New Zealand says the winner was quietly coming to terms with the massive win and decided to lay low before getting in contact.

"I wasn't in a rush to claim the prize - and I needed some time to process things," the unnamed winner said in a statement released by Lotto NZ.

"It's all been very surreal."

The winner said the win would change their lives. It was purchased from the Market Store in the small Canterbury town of Twizel on December 28. 

"What an amazing way to start the year," the winner said, adding they now have the chance to travel more while also donating to a number of charities.

Lotto says the winner also wants to pay off the mortgages of close family members.

Other examples of winning tickets taking some time to be claimed include in August 2019, when a $12.2 million Powerball prize went unclaimed for over two weeks. The ticket was purchased on MyLotto and Lotto NZ was able to contact the winner, who was completely unaware they had won.  

A Gisborne couple in 2017 took two weeks to claim a $6.5 million Powerball prize. They knew straight away but wanted to take time to think about how to manage their windfall.

In 2014, a Hamilton couple sat on their winning $16.2 million ticket for ten days before checking and finding out they were the missing millionaires.

Lotto NZ tracked down a Christchurch player in 2013 who was unaware they had won $22 million. The man thought the prize had already been claimed so was taken by surprise when Lotto knocked on his door.

A private investigator was considered by Lotto if the Twizel winner did not step forward but in the end was not required.