220 people claim ownership of lost lottery ticket worth €4.7 million

Lottery dealer who found receipt stands to keep the prize, but is distraught at the thought

The lottery dealership in A Coruña where the winning ticket turned up.
The lottery dealership in A Coruña where the winning ticket turned up.ÓSCAR CORRAL

This is the story of someone who was lucky yet unfortunate at the same time. It is also the story of someone else who feels absolutely terrible about the prize money he is now likely to come into.

And finally it is the story of 220 individuals who are hoping to become multimillionaires overnight – either because they feel they are legitimately entitled to the money, or because they feel it’s at least worth a try.

In the last week of June 2012, the lucky-yet-unfortunate person bought a ticket for the Primitiva lottery at an outlet inside a shopping center in A Coruña, selecting the numbers 10, 17, 24, 37, 40 and 43.

This is very awkward for me, the issue has completely overwhelmed me”

Manuel Reija, lottery dealer who found the ticket

But on the day the winning numbers were announced, this person did not pay attention. And when they showed up at a different outlet to make another lottery punt, they lost the receipt for the winning ticket, which was worth €4.7 million.

But the receipt did not disappear. It was found by the owner of the second lottery outlet, also located in A Coruña, on San Agustín square. This man, who stands to keep the fortune if the rightful owner is not found, feels awful about it.

Manuel Reija said it never once occurred to him to keep quiet and just cash the prize. After he ran it through the machine and realized that all six numbers were correct, he rushed to inform the authorities.

But 14 months have now elapsed after an announcement was published in the official provincial gazette. The message was purposely discreet, but there was an inevitable avalanche of opportunity seekers. To date, 220 people have claimed the prize, the last 30 this week alone. September 25 is the deadline to file a claim to the money.

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If nobody is able to prove ownership, the State Lottery and Betting Society (SELAE) will award the €4,722,337 to the lottery dealer who found it. But Reija is so upset about not finding the true owner that he will no longer talk to the press. Politely, he says in a breaking voice over the telephone that “this is very awkward for me, the issue has completely overwhelmed me; to me, customers are the most important thing.”

Meanwhile, the winning ticket sits inside a safe awaiting its new owner. Applications are being sent to A Coruña City Hall along with a description of the way the ticket presumably looked when it was lost – any scratches, pencil notes, whether it was folded or not, anything that might prove that applicants physically saw the piece of paper.

Many of the claims have already been rejected, but other people still have their hopes up. After September 25, another three months will go by before A Coruña issues an administrative resolution. Even then, there are also legal suits filed by people who are quite certain they lost their ticket, and whose cases will have to conclude before any decision becomes final. These individuals are asking for more serious evidence than just a physical description of the ticket, such as a review of camera footage, fingerprint checks or even DNA testing.

English version by Susana Urra.

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