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Mega lottery bucks go unclaimed every year

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Mega lottery bucks go unclaimed every year
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Imagine the luck: You beat the odds and hit the lottery. Now imagine this kind of luck: You don't even know it.

Of all of life's weird twists of fate, this is pretty high up there. You could be living in fat city, if only you had checked your ticket or saved it from your jeans pocket before doing laundry.

Last year, more than $600 million in lottery fortunes went unclaimed in the United States. That could build, like, half of a football stadium.

In California, $29 million went unclaimed during the 2006-07 fiscal year. And it could soon go up an additional $166,599.

Right now, the clock is ticking for someone who bought a California Lottery Fantasy 5 ticket in Pittsburg. A month has gone by without anyone claiming it. The winner has five more months to come forward or the money goes to education spending instead of a new Porsche or a trip to Las Vegas.

Sadly, it's not me.

I've never been to Pittsburg. I don't even know where Pittsburg is. (Steelers play there?) But I feel for that person.

He's got a windfall waiting.

If the ticket goes unclaimed, though, we'll never know just who the unfortunate soul was. Nor will the unfortunate soul likely ever know that he's such an unfortunate soul.

So at least he's fortunate in that.

According to lottery sources, almost $2 million in prizes will expire in California in the next two months.

Ticktock, people.

The largest jackpot believed to have gone unclaimed was in Indiana in 2002 — a whopping $51 million.

Fifty-one million!

That's about the expected payroll for the Padres next year. It'll probably earn them last place, but it's something.

The scale of the unclaimed prizes runs the gamut.  Many people buy tickets hoping for the big score, only to watch the jackpot go to someone else.

But a number of smaller prizes — sometimes worth hundreds of thousand of dollars — go unclaimed because people don't bother to check their tickets after learning they didn't win the ultimate prize.

Most states don't break their backs to let people know of unclaimed prizes, other than jackpot prizes, which bring much positive attention to the lottery.

The California Lottery tries its best to notify the public that unclaimed tickets are out there, said spokesman Eric Alborg. It sends out news releases whenever a ticket is set to expire and adds the information to its Web site.

For whatever reason, sometimes no one comes forward.

"A lot of times people lose their tickets," Alborg said.

That can be remedied at times, he said. The state lottery's security system may be able to determine if someone purchased a ticket. He declined to give specifics, noting the system is a guarded one.

In all, 2 percent of the prizes go unclaimed, Alborg said.

In very rare cases, somebody comes forward after his or her ticket has expired.

Clarence Jackson Jr. had the winning ticket for a Connecticut lottery prize worth $5.8 million in 1996. Jackson had a year to claim it, but was three days late in turning it in. He appealed to the state legislature to get the cash — saying he had been busy caring for his ill father — but was turned down.

Then again, in June of 2001, a New Jersey winner of a $46 million Big Game lottery jackpot was able to collect his prize after the deadline because — get this — he stuck the winning ticket in an envelope addressed to the lottery and dropped it in a mailbox a day before the deadline.  It arrived three days after the deadline, but since the postmark was before the deadline, he was paid the big bucks.

The N.J. winner's ticket was in a drawer full of junk for nearly a year before he found it.

When he told his wife about sending the ticket via regular mail (not even certified mail), her response was, "Are you crazy?"

The largest jackpot in California not to be claimed? That was for a Super Lotto prize of $28 million in 2003.

Don't bother checking your tickets if you happen to find a few from way back then. If the numbers match up, it would only make you cry.

Union-Tribune, Lottery Post Staff

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22 comments. Last comment 6 years ago by myzeus.
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RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
mid-Ohio
United States
Member #9
March 24, 2001
17879 Posts
Offline
Posted: October 5, 2008, 12:46 pm - IP Logged

These facts are in contrast with some players claims that lotteries cheat to make even more money.   There seems to be plenty of players who are willing to spend a buck to be in the game but aren't willing to spend time checking their tickets after the drawings which results in millions of dollars going unclaimed.

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

    Velocity's avatar - Gin
    PA
    United States
    Member #63548
    August 1, 2008
    25 Posts
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    Posted: October 5, 2008, 2:15 pm - IP Logged

    I dont understand if you play the lottery and the goal is to win MONEY why wouldnt you check your tickets or put them in a safe place?  Jackpots going unclaimed!?!  I would pass out if I beat those odds and never looked at my ticket until it was too late...

      diamondpalace's avatar - Untitled 2.jpg
      Dallas, TX
      United States
      Member #60284
      April 12, 2008
      3855 Posts
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      Posted: October 5, 2008, 3:03 pm - IP Logged

      I scratch my head when hearing that tickets go unclaimed...When I purchased a ticket I treat it as a winner untill it is proven wrong, this way I treat it with care and security to prevent it from lost.

        ThatScaryChick's avatar - AbnSTiA

        United States
        Member #56506
        November 21, 2007
        4638 Posts
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        Posted: October 5, 2008, 3:14 pm - IP Logged

        It's crazy. I am sure some people may have lost their tickets or even passed on, but I don't think that is what happens to the majority of the tickets. I think most of these people for some reason just don't check their tickets.

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

          chasingadream's avatar - Archangel 01.jpg

          United States
          Member #38687
          May 3, 2006
          315 Posts
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          Posted: October 5, 2008, 3:49 pm - IP Logged

          I've said it before and I'll say it again......this would never happen to me unless I die. Thats the only way any of my tickets would go unclaimed.

          Oogle  waiting patiently for my jackpot

            GamerMom's avatar - tails

            United States
            Member #60535
            April 21, 2008
            460 Posts
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            Posted: October 5, 2008, 3:55 pm - IP Logged

            in June of 2001, a New Jersey winner of a $46 million Big Game lottery jackpot was able to collect his prize after the deadline because — get this — he stuck the winning ticket in an envelope addressed to the lottery and dropped it in a mailbox a day before the deadline.  It arrived three days after the deadline, but since the postmark was before the deadline, he was paid the big bucks.

            The N.J. winner's ticket was in a drawer full of junk for nearly a year before he found it.

            When he told his wife about sending the ticket via regular mail (not even certified mail), her response was, "Are you crazy?"

             

            I would have choked him!!!!  If that was my ticket I would have driven to cash it in the second I found out I won.  I can understand mailing it if it were a few hundred or a grand but 46 MILLION??????? He must not have needed the $$$ very badly!!

              Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
              Chief Bottle Washer
              New Jersey
              United States
              Member #1
              May 31, 2000
              21533 Posts
              Online
              Posted: October 5, 2008, 5:28 pm - IP Logged

              in June of 2001, a New Jersey winner of a $46 million Big Game lottery jackpot was able to collect his prize after the deadline because — get this — he stuck the winning ticket in an envelope addressed to the lottery and dropped it in a mailbox a day before the deadline.  It arrived three days after the deadline, but since the postmark was before the deadline, he was paid the big bucks.

              The N.J. winner's ticket was in a drawer full of junk for nearly a year before he found it.

              When he told his wife about sending the ticket via regular mail (not even certified mail), her response was, "Are you crazy?"

               

              I would have choked him!!!!  If that was my ticket I would have driven to cash it in the second I found out I won.  I can understand mailing it if it were a few hundred or a grand but 46 MILLION??????? He must not have needed the $$$ very badly!!

              Yeah, I agree, which is why I love telling that story. 

              (That was one of my additions to this news story.)

              You can still find one of the original versions of the news story about the Big Game winner here: http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/06/15/lottery.winner.02/index.html

               

              Check the State Lottery Report Card
              What grade did your lottery earn?

               

              Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
              Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                DC81's avatar - batman39
                MI
                United States
                Member #54830
                August 31, 2007
                977 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: October 5, 2008, 6:44 pm - IP Logged

                I remember that story and strangely enough was thinking about it the other day and I still think "what an idiot!"

                Seriously, aside from the whole deadline issue, it's just insane to mail it. I wonder whatever happened to that guy. Losing a ticket is one thing, but having it and not bothering to check it? That's just moronic no matter what excuse you have, you deserve to lose out.

                You can't predict random.

                  Avatar
                  Entertaiment Capital
                  United States
                  Member #37800
                  April 19, 2006
                  302 Posts
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                  Posted: October 6, 2008, 12:18 am - IP Logged

                  These facts are in contrast with some players claims that lotteries cheat to make even more money.   There seems to be plenty of players who are willing to spend a buck to be in the game but aren't willing to spend time checking their tickets after the drawings which results in millions of dollars going unclaimed.

                   I bet 99% of unclaimed prizes are small prizes worth about 1~5 bucks. Most people won't even bother to claim the prize unless it's significantly large.

                    BabyJC's avatar - Lottery-031.jpg

                    United States
                    Member #3271
                    January 7, 2004
                    148 Posts
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                    Posted: October 6, 2008, 12:34 pm - IP Logged

                    All that unclaimed money should go into a raffle-type drawing after the deadline has passed.

                    ΩΩΩSmiley

                      ICNUMBERS's avatar - the eye.png
                      Messy Michigan
                      United States
                      Member #64435
                      August 28, 2008
                      110 Posts
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                      Posted: October 6, 2008, 1:29 pm - IP Logged

                      Just think about all of the $1 scratch off's or any other ticket at that rate that goes unclaimed. Once I was ridding w/a friend and they had the winning ticket in the ashtray and was going to throw it away they had never checked the tickets.

                      Remember we are the decisions that we make, please take the time to educate.Stooges

                        Avatar
                        CT
                        United States
                        Member #62299
                        June 23, 2008
                        53 Posts
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                        Posted: October 6, 2008, 7:52 pm - IP Logged

                        Here is a tip:  Do NOT put a potential winning ticket, or definite winning ticket in your pants pocket if at all possible.  Either put it in your wallet/purse or hold it in your hand( in a protective envelope or sheath) until you get to the car or get home.

                        Another tip(unrelated to this story):  When buying quick/easy picks, mark a play slip and hand it to the clerk instead of telling the clerk you want a quick /easy pick of a certain game.  I say this because the other day I wanted classic lotto and was given powerball.  My way, the clerk is not able to f*** it up and give you a ticket you did not want because the clerk will just slip the playslip in and not accidently punch up the wrong button.

                        Just recently, I asked for classic lotto QP, got PB QP.  Fortunately, I won 7 bucks on a  1 dollar bet, so I wasn't upset very much.  But other times I won nothing on a ticket I did not ask for.

                         

                         

                        SC

                          Avatar
                          CT
                          United States
                          Member #62299
                          June 23, 2008
                          53 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: October 6, 2008, 7:55 pm - IP Logged

                          These facts are in contrast with some players claims that lotteries cheat to make even more money.   There seems to be plenty of players who are willing to spend a buck to be in the game but aren't willing to spend time checking their tickets after the drawings which results in millions of dollars going unclaimed.

                          RJOH,

                          Throwing down money on the lotery is the fun part, the entertainment.  Checking the tickets is hard work, at least for many lazy lottery players.

                           

                          SC

                            Avatar
                            CT
                            United States
                            Member #62299
                            June 23, 2008
                            53 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: October 6, 2008, 7:57 pm - IP Logged

                            All that unclaimed money should go into a raffle-type drawing after the deadline has passed.

                            Baby,

                             

                            That is a great idea!  I love raffles, at least when I win something.

                             

                            SC