There had already been speculation and controversy about the identity of the winner because the draw for the prize was held on 14th March, 2014, but nobody came forward until just before the deadline for claiming the reward expired nearly a year later. The Lotto Max ticket had been purchased in Langley, B.C., and even before the winner came forward a lawsuit was filed between work colleagues. Gayleen Elliott, a Shoppers Drug Mart employee, alleged that the winning ticket had been bought for an office pool but hidden by a co-worker. The accused says that he forgot to buy tickets that week, but the lawsuit has still not been resolved.
The winner is now reportedly fighting to keep his or her name out of the public eye but, unlike some lotteries, anonymity is only granted in exceptional circumstances. The BCLC insists on total transparency to protect its integrity, but the verification process is taking longer than usual in this case.
"It is unusual," said Laura Piva-Babcock, a spokeswoman for the BCLC. "However, it all is a case by case basis, and it takes as long as it takes until we're satisfied that we have verified the winner."
She added: "There's different layers to the process. We do have a security team. Anyone who comes forward with a major prize, they will be interviewed by someone from our security team. People want to know that these steps will be taken so that the prize will be paid out to the right person at the end of the day."
The BCLC allowed a winner from Winnipeg to remain anonymous in 2008, with a spokeswoman at the time suggesting that prison guards or police officers who work undercover could be treated as special cases. UK National Lottery players are given the choice of anonymity by operators Camelot, while ticket holders in six US states can remain private. The mysterious Lotto Max winner does not have such an option and, if their right to the money is verified, could face a lengthy legal battle to stay out of the spotlight.