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$26 million in winning Michigan lottery tickets unclaimed

Michigan LotteryMichigan Lottery: $26 million in winning Michigan lottery tickets unclaimed

Keep an eye out for old state lottery tickets while rummaging through drawers and closets for holiday decorations. Millions of dollars are going unclaimed, and you don't want to lose out.

More than $26 million worth of winning tickets were never redeemed in the fiscal year that ended in September. Another $2 million was lost in October. And since the lottery began 35 years ago, an eye-popping $512 million has gone unclaimed.

Today, the one-year clock is ticking on a number of sizable winning tickets, most bought in Metro Detroit.

 

There's a Jan. 3 deadline for the holder of a winning $100,000 Millionaire Raffle ticket (number 333774) to come forward. It was bought last January at Luke's Gift & Sweet Shoppe in Troy's Oakland Mall.

"I just don't expect the winner to show," said John Kenyon, who sold that winning ticket. "It's our theory that it was probably purchased by an older person who didn't realize the ticket was a winner and probably threw it in the garbage."

But, sometimes, winners do wait until the last minute to come forward to collect.

Last year, The News ran a front-page story about a $1.5 million winning ticket that was about to expire. The story was picked up by other media outlets, and the coverage jogged the memory of a middle-aged Detroit father of two. Nearly a year earlier, he had bought two Windfall tickets at the Meijer store in Roseville -- using the birthdates of his deceased parents as his numbers.

He placed the tickets into the pocket of a new leather coat his wife had bought for him. Frankly, he didn't care for the coat, and it sat in the closet for a year until the man got curious.

The man, who requested anonymity, showed up at Lottery headquarters in Lansing to collect his fortune -- 4 1/2 hours before the one-year deadline.

Not all the stories end that way.

The one Lottery officials still shake their heads at involved a $34 million winning ticket sold at a Meijer store in East Lansing in 1997. The winner never showed. In fact, there have been 13 winning tickets worth at least $1 million that were never cashed before the one-year deadline.

Money goes to schools

The upside is that all of the unclaimed prize money is placed into the state School Aid Fund, which goes toward K-12 education.

Tom Weber, acting Michigan Lottery commissioner, said while it's a good thing that schools benefit from unclaimed winnings, the state would rather see winners get their financial due.

"We love it when people win, and we want them to have a full winning experience," he said.

Weber guesses that a lot of the unclaimed prize money is in the big jackpot games.

"Unclaimed rates are high on games like Mega Millions," he said. "A player hears that the big winner is not from the town where he bought a ticket and so he doesn't check to see if his ticket won a smaller prize."

Weber also hears from people who said they had the winning ticket but lost it -- like the Macomb County man a few years ago who said he lost his winner in Lake St. Clair while water-skiing.

"You have to have the winning ticket," Weber said, to claim the prize.

Woman misplaced ticket

Gus Harrison, the state's first Lottery commissioner, made an exception to the rule in the late 1970s after he received what he described at the time as "one of the funniest letters I've ever seen."

A Royal Oak mother of four wrote that she had won $5,000 in a drawing. She was so excited that she and her husband got "some good wine and partied it up."

Before going to bed, she hid the winning ticket in a secure place. Problem was, in the morning she couldn't remember where that was.

In the days that followed she frantically ripped molding off the floorboards and paneling off the walls and removed all the mirrors to look at their backs. No luck.

She bought a metal detector in hopes the metal foil on the ticket would trigger a response. She went to a hypnotist in an attempt to jog her memory. She started taking tranquilizers.

She wrote she had been through "40 days of sheer hell."

The Lottery boss decided her story was legitimate. She got the money. She and her husband took a trip to Las Vegas.

Detroit News

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6 comments. Last comment 7 years ago by RJOh.
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ThatScaryChick's avatar - AbnSTiA

United States
Member #56506
November 21, 2007
4630 Posts
Offline
Posted: November 28, 2007, 9:42 am - IP Logged

I'm wondering if most of those people who never get their prize money honestly lost their ticket, died or just didn't check to see if they won. I don't always check my tickets right away, but I would never not check them. I get the feeling though, that most of these unclaimed prizes are from people not checking their tickets, which is kind of sad. So much money shouldn't be going unclaimed. No Nod 

"No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

    justxploring's avatar - villiarna
    Wandering Aimlessly
    United States
    Member #25360
    November 5, 2005
    4457 Posts
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    Posted: November 29, 2007, 2:15 am - IP Logged

    I'm wondering if most of those people who never get their prize money honestly lost their ticket, died or just didn't check to see if they won. I don't always check my tickets right away, but I would never not check them. I get the feeling though, that most of these unclaimed prizes are from people not checking their tickets, which is kind of sad. So much money shouldn't be going unclaimed. No Nod 

    If you go way back, that used to be one of my big pet peeves on this board, but I decided to let it go.  I'd always say I can't understand why anyone would buy a ticket and then not even bother to check the number.  In FL they start looking for the winner 60 days before the ticket expires.  They post online and in the stores where the tickets were purchased in both English & Spanish.   

      ThatScaryChick's avatar - AbnSTiA

      United States
      Member #56506
      November 21, 2007
      4630 Posts
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      Posted: November 29, 2007, 12:09 pm - IP Logged

      I wonder if the above story is true.  How can a Lottery director payout a prize based on a person's sad letter?  I think I'm going to try that!  A $2 million FL MegaMoney ticket will expire soon.   Let's see -  "Dear Florida Lottery...."

      Yeah, that is kind of a weird story. I'm betting it was a one time deal. I think now days, it is hard to convince the lottery officials to give you money from a ticket that you no longer have. 

        Avatar

        United States
        Member #54390
        August 17, 2007
        313 Posts
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        Posted: November 29, 2007, 12:58 pm - IP Logged

        Michigan is like the poorest state in the country.  So many people are moving out of Michigan.  My friend's store used to be packed, now it's almost empty due to people moving to another state to look for jobs.

          justxploring's avatar - villiarna
          Wandering Aimlessly
          United States
          Member #25360
          November 5, 2005
          4457 Posts
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          Posted: November 29, 2007, 1:11 pm - IP Logged

          Michigan is like the poorest state in the country.  So many people are moving out of Michigan.  My friend's store used to be packed, now it's almost empty due to people moving to another state to look for jobs.

          I know what you mean.  One member the other day wrote that Florida is a wealthy state.  I'm not so sure about that since there is such a gap here between the people who spend 1/2 of the year here & the rest of us.  Now that the economy is slow and people aren't buying houses, it trickles down to all retail establishments and furniture stores, jewelry and clothing stores are closing.  I hope your friend is able to hang onto his business until things turn around. 

          I think now days, it is hard to convince the lottery officials to give you money from a ticket that you no longer have. 

          ScaryChick - yes, I agree.  I guess a surveillance tape might prove something if it was date & time stamped, but without a copy of the original, I don't know how you could prove you bought the ticket.  So maybe this is a lesson for us here.  Always make a couple of copies of your ticket if you win!   (both sides)   I'm not sure a copy would be accepted, but at least you have some proof.  In FL they always say where the ticket was purchased, but not the date & time.  If all the numbers matched, it's possible they'd honor a copy, but I'm not so sure.

           metal foil on the ticket

          Something is fishy.  The article says she won $5,000 in a drawing but then mentions she bought a metal detector in case it could pick up something which indicates she bought a scratch-off.  When was there ever foil on a lottery ticket?  Just curious since I've been buying them for many years.

            RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
            mid-Ohio
            United States
            Member #9
            March 24, 2001
            17878 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: November 29, 2007, 2:06 pm - IP Logged

            I wonder if the above story is true.  How can a Lottery director payout a prize based on a person's sad letter?  I think I'm going to try that!  A $2 million FL MegaMoney ticket will expire soon.   Let's see -  "Dear Florida Lottery...."

            Yeah, that is kind of a weird story. I'm betting it was a one time deal. I think now days, it is hard to convince the lottery officials to give you money from a ticket that you no longer have. 

            I've read about large lottery prizes going unclaimed and 20 people with heart-breaking stories about losing their ticket show up to make a claim.  Years ago, such stories could influence lottery commissioners because they were rare but now days liars and cheats have gotten in on the act with some good stories and it's harder to tell if any of them are true. 

            Beside, if a prize could be claimed with out a ticket then there would be no reason to buy one because the odds of there being a large unclaimed prize are better than those of winning one with a ticket. 

            * you don't need more tickets, just the right ticket * 
            * your best chance at winning a lottery jackpot is to buy a ticket * 
                 Wink