Mystery $17.1m Lotto winner still hasn't stepped forward, private investigator could be used to locate them

If the lucky person who won a massive $17.1 million Powerball last year doesn't claim their winnings soon a private investigator will be called in to help find them.

Lotto New Zealand says it's still hoping to hear from the winner, who struck gold on December 28.

"We have some snippets of information about the winning ticket to pass onto a private investigator to locate the missing millionaire," said Marie Winfield, Lotto NZ head of communications and corporate social responsibility.

"It's not unusual for players to save up tickets and check them all at once. Just last week we had a $1 million winner who won in mid-December and only checked their ticket and claimed the prize last Monday."

Winfield told Newshub every effort will be made to find the winner if they don't come forward in the next few weeks. It was purchased from the Market Store in the small Canterbury town of Twizel.

"We are able to drill down and find specific information about a winning ticket - such as what day the ticket was bought, the exact time, and whether they paid with credit card or Eftpos and we can use this data to help us investigate," Winfield said.

In August 2019, 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. 

Anyone who purchased their ticket from the Market Store in Twizel is encouraged to write their name on the back of the ticket and check it immediately.

Players can phone Lotto on 0800 695 6886 to find out how to claim a prize.