An Auckland man who won a bonus Big Wednesday ticket in June was richer than he knew, and it took five months to find out about his good fortune.
He put the free ticket, bought at Peninsula Foodmarket, in an old Lotto wallet in a chest of drawers without bothering to check it.
Months later, he said, "for some reason" he opened the drawer, saw the wallet and looked inside it.
"I never believed the old ticket would be a winner but thought I should take it to the shop to check it."
When the message "big winner" flashed up, he said his reaction was: "Great, I might win $30,000. I never thought it could be so much more. I was absolutely amazed."
The man added: "We've been living week to week at the moment, so this will make our Christmas - and many Christmases to come!"
It was an unusual situation, said NZ Lotteries' chief executive Todd McLeay. Most big prizes were claimed within a fortnight of being drawn.
Winners have up to a year to uplift their prizes.
He said the largest unclaimed Lotto win at present was a $333,333 first division prize sold at Tamatea Pak'nSave in Napier for the September 3 draw.
Unclaimed prize funds were eventually transferred to NZ Lotteries' prize reserve fund.
In another happy prelude to the Christmas season, a player in the Tauranga suburb of Bethlehem had won $54,525 - made up of $17,100 Lotto second division plus $37,425 from Powerball, said Mr Todd.
Fifteen other tickets from around the country also won $17,100 in second division at the weekend.