A whopping $37.6 million in lottery prizes went unclaimed in New York last year from dreamers who plunked down their dollars for Powerball, Mega Millions and other tickets and never bothered to check them, according to New York Lottery statistics.
The clock just ran out for one lucky $10,000 Powerball winner who bought his ticket for the Sept. 17, 2011, drawing at College Wines & Liquors on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. The ticket holder had until midnight yesterday to claim the prize.
"A lot of times, they get lost, they get thrown away. A lot of people don't know how to read the tickets," said Anthony Bellay, who owns the liquor shop.
Bellay said he didn't even know the store had sold the winning ticket. When told by The Post last week of the impending one-year deadline for the winner to come forward, Bellay said he would put a sign in his window.
There are hundreds of other winners out there in New York City, The Post found.
Some 250 winning tickets sold in the city for "draw games" such as Mega Millions and Win 4 from September 2011 through early March 2012 have gone unclaimed.
The biggest outstanding prize is a $250,150.00 Mega Millions ticket sold for the Dec. 6, 2011, drawing at the Quick Stop convenience store on Grand Avenue in Maspeth, Queens.
Ali Alsukimi, a store clerk, said he heard the lucky winner had already collected his prize and spent all of the cash.
"A short Irish man," he said of the supposed winner.
But lottery officials said that the ticket holder still hasn't come forward.
Lottery players may also want to look through their pockets for a Take 5 ticket purchased for the Dec. 11, 2011, drawing from the True Blue Deli on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Manhattan. The ducat is worth $35,136.50.
The New Year's Day Take 5 drawing made the holder of a ticket bought at the New Li Hua Discount & Gift shop on Wyckoff Avenue in Brooklyn $61,785 richer — if the winner comes forward.
And someone who gambled on the Win 4 game, buying 10 tickets from the Rup Food Mart on Amboy Road in Staten Island, has until next week to collect the $50,000 prize. All the unclaimed cash goes back into the state lottery prize pool.
Lolymary Questel, of Queens, was an 11th-hour winner of $1 million earlier this year. The preschool teacher found her winning ticket last spring while cleaning out her purse and cashed it with just a few weeks to spare.
"A lot of people think with these draw-game tickets that they have no expectation of winning, so they don't check," said Carolyn Hapeman, a lottery spokeswoman. "That's a habit that I would seriously advise people to get out of."
Julia Alfred, 53, of Woodside, admitted to the bad habit of tossing aside her tickets without checking them, assuming that the Bagelman shop near her home would not sell a big winner.
But a $10,000 winning ticket for the Nov. 2, 2011, Powerball game was purchased at the deli and remains unclaimed.
"Really? Here?" Alfred said. "I gotta get my tickets!"
Top unclaimed lottery tickets in the five boroughs
Drugs R Us Pharmacy 1963 Grand Concourse
$25,000 Win 4 (Jan. 30, 2012)
True Blue Deli 2741 Frederick Douglass Blvd.
$35,136 Take 5 (Dec. 11, 2011)
Rup Food Mart 4020 Amboy Road
$50,000 Win 4 (Sept. 24, 2011)
New Li Hua Discount & Gift 207 Wyckoff Ave.
$61,785 Take 5 (Jan. 1, 2012)
Quick Stop 70-20 Grand Ave.
$250,150 Mega Millions (Dec. 6, 2011)
Thanks for w794728 for the tip.