$64M Gold Ball jackpot finally claimed by N.B. fisherman — after the winning ticket sat on his dresser for 347 days

It all came down to the wire for Merel Chiasson to claim the largest lottery prize ever won in Atlantic Canada. Turns out, it's all part of his process.

Man holding a $64 million cheque after winning the Gold Ball jackpot
It's now time to retire for Merel Chiasson, who plans to be the "same person" despite the monumental jackpot. (Courtesy: Atlantic Lottery)

There were only 19 days left before a record-breaking $64 million Lotto 6/49 Gold Ball ticket was set to expire at the one-year mark.

Merel Chiasson, a fisherman from Bas-Caraquet, N.B., had heard locals buzzing about the then-unclaimed jackpot from the April 15, 2023 draw. It was, after all, the largest lottery prize ever for Atlantic Canada, after being purchased in Gloucester County, N.B., which has a population of roughly 78,000, according to Statistics Canada.

However, Chiasson never imagined he would be the lucky recipient. To his surprise, he was holding on to the winning ticket, and it sat on his bedroom dresser for almost an entire year — 347 days to be exact.

It was all part of his routine. Chiasson had stored the ticket with a collection of other unchecked tickets at home. His process is that he regularly checks them a month before they are set to expire.

“I’ve always done it like that and I never thought I would win big, so I leave the tickets there and didn’t worry too much about it,” said Chiasson, while in Moncton to claim his prize.

It was only when Chiasson decided to check his ticket at a local retailer that the reality began to sink in. Initially, he was unsure whether he had won $64,000 or $64 million.

“There [were] a lot of zeros, so I wasn’t sure,” said Chiasson.

Then, he picked up his partner from work and showed her the validation slip. She knew right away that he was the $64 million winner that everyone had been looking for. Despite this revelation, Chiasson remained skeptical until he visited the Atlantic Lottery Corporation in Moncton to confirm his win.

The winning ticket was purchased at Depanneur Pokemouche in Pokemouche, N.B., which only has a population of roughly 490 people, according to Statistics Canada. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Chiasson’s village of Bas-Caraquet, which has a population of roughly 1,305 people.

With his newfound wealth, Chiasson plans to retire comfortably. He was a crab fisherman for 40 years before starting to work at a local fish plant a few years ago. However, more than anything, he intends to use his prize money to support his family.

“I don’t want anything big,” said Chiasson. “It’s not going to change me, I’m still the same person.”

Reflecting on the unexpected windfall, Chiasson admits that there could be more winning tickets among his collection waiting to be discovered.

“It’s possible,” said Chiasson.

Chiasson has been a regular lottery player for many years. He mainly plays games like Lotto 6/49, Lotto Max, and Set for Life. He said he intends to keep playing the lottery and he even bought more tickets after validating his winning ticket.

Lotto 6/49 offers players the chance to win two multi-million-dollar jackpots on every $3 play. The Classic Draw offers a $5-million jackpot every Wednesday and Saturday. The Gold Ball draw, however, is a new format introduced in September 2022, and guarantees a winner every time.

It starts at $10 million, and includes 30 balls in the draw: 29 white and 1 gold. Each white ball is worth $1 million, whereas the gold ball represents the lucky jackpot prize. This Gold Ball jackpot continues to grow by $2 million each time a white ball is drawn, until it reaches $68 million with no more white balls remaining — which then guarantees a winner.

Tools to stop gambling

If you're looking to take a break from gambling, self-exclusion programs can be effective tools. See here for resources that are available across Canada.