Last December, a Mega Millions ticket worth $1 million in winnings was purchased in North Carolina. When the winner never came forward to claim their prize, it expired July 1. It was a second-tier reward that required matching five out of six numbers pulled from its Dec. 31 drawing. And apparently this is a common occurrence regarding winning lotto tickets.
Each state has guidelines for how long someone can take to claim their prize, which can range between three to six months or a full year from the drawing date.The chances of winning a Mega Millions Jackpot is 1 in 302 million, and for Powerball, it’s 292 million.
Unfortunately, even for people who beat the odds, winning lotto tickets can still slip through the cracks says executive director of the North Carolina lottery, Mark Michalko.
“Sometimes people leave their tickets in a nightstand, the glove compartment of their cars and trucks, or tucked away in a wallet,” Michalko told CNBC.
Even lottery jackpots go unclaimed, and when we think about how they average around $300 million, that is a significant loss. Of course, there are many reasons winnerd don’t come forward such as losing their ticket, or simply forgetting to check it.
Depending on the type of ticket you buy, whether a multi-state or a state-specific ticket, you could lose out on a lot of dough. But where does all this unclaimed money go? It goes back into the state selling the tickets. The funds can sometimes be used for bonus prizes or second-chance contests. In some states, it goes into education efforts and schools.
According to the TheLotter, some of the biggest state-specific lottery losses were a $63 million SuperLotto Plus in California, a $77 million Powerball in Georgia, and $68 million Mega Millions in New York.
But the tradition of unclaimed millions still carries on. In Texas, a jackpot-winning ticket worth $7.25 million for the Lotto is still unclaimed. Although it’s not as big as the numbers listed above, the executive director of the Texas Lottery is hoping someone steps forward.
“If you have the winning ticket, we encourage you to sign the ticket, put it in a safe place, seek financial and legal advice, and call the Texas Lottery to schedule an appointment to claim the prize,” Gary Grief told KXan.