Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lottery windfall for lotto seller

WINNIPEG - Many store owners dream of making a lot of money with their business. Blair Knutson did it the unconventional way - he bought a Lotto 6-49 ticket from the grocery store he owns in Gimli, Man.

The purchase made the owner of G & C Grocery $16 million richer.

In case that raised any eyebrows, officials with the Western Canada Lottery Corp. quickly announced they have conducted a mandatory investigation and have determined Knutson is the rightful winner.

"I'm pretty honest, so I wasn't worried," Knutson told reporters at a news conference in downtown Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Knutson's case wasn't unique. All wins are subject to review, but retailers who win undergo extra scrutiny, said Andrea Marantz of the Western Canada Lottery Corp.
The process was sparked by reports of fraud in 2006 that tarnished lottery systems in Ontario and the Maritimes.

When the winner is a lottery ticket vendor, Marantz said they look into the person's history, such as whether they've won prizes with the lottery before.

Another part of the process is a sort of cross-examination to confirm where tickets were purchased and at what time, and can include interviews with shoppers who were in the store when the ticket was bought or validated, Marantz said.

"We check out the story," she said. "The times of the sale and place of the sale all recorded on the computer, so we can doublecheck all that information."

Marantz said they have only a handful of retail winners each year.

Knutson, 42, said he doesn't plan to stop working. In fact, he was right back behind the lottery counter Monday, the day after he discovered he'd hit the jackpot.

As for what he hopes to buy with the money, so far, the married grandfather seems short on ideas.

"I need a new mattress. My back is killing me," he said with a laugh.

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