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Millions in lottery winnings go unclaimed each year

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Millions in lottery winnings go unclaimed each year
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It is hard for some to believe, but even as some Americans dream of hitting it big in the Lotto, Powerball, and Mega Millions jackpots, for some it might have happened and whizzed by unnoticed.

"Happens all the time," says Illinois Lottery chief Michael Jones. "People misinterpret whether they won or lost. People misplace tickets all the time."

Jones said the lottery estimates about one percent of all lottery prizes go unclaimed. And, considering the Illinois games raked in about $3 billion last year, he estimates about $2 million a month find no takers.

"They look to see whether they won the big prize, and then they discard the ticket," he said.

Indeed, right now there are some whoppers looking for a home: $750,000 in Mega Millions winnings, along with a $6.5 million lotto winner from last August. There are $845,833 in combined winning tickets in the Lucky Day Lotto game. And there is even a million dollar winner from the millionaire raffle last March.

In some cases, unclaimed winnings are tied up in court. Right now, there is an ongoing dispute among employees at a Chicago Heights bakery over a $118 million windfall. Some of those employees contend they were squeezed out of an office pool which they all routinely play.

But in many cases, people simply don't know that they've won.

Take Ron Yurcus for example. The hospice chaplain routinely played various lottery games but failed to check the Powerball ticket he bought last August. For three months.

Then, in November, Yurcus was cleaning his desk and found the ticket. He decided he should check the numbers before throwing it away. And, left to right, as each one matched, his eyes got bigger.

"When I saw that number one, with all those zeroes after it, I just about fell over," Yurcus said. "Thinking, this isn't real. This isn't me. This can't be happening."

He said he waited until his wife came home, sat her down, opened a bottle of wine, and broke the news that they had just won a million dollars. And that they had done so, three months earlier.

"Of course, we didn't sleep that night," she said. "And it was like, 'Oh my gosh, we've had this treasure in our house for two months!'"

Most unclaimed tickets are, in actuality, small prizes of a few dollars or more. But those add up to millions every year. After 365 days, lottery prizes expire and are reclaimed into an unclaimed prize fund, the money used for various state purposes and additional jackpots.

Jones, the lottery director, says the state's hope is that more people will avail themselves of his agency's new online games. Those, he says, are foolproof.

If you win, they contact you.

"It's the first time there will be no unclaimed prizes," he said. "We will inform you when you've won, and we will send you the money."

Thanks to Ronnie316 for the tip.

NBC

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48 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by jamella724.
Page 1 of 4

United States
Member #116272
September 7, 2011
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Posted: January 15, 2013, 9:02 am - IP Logged

There's one advantage to online games......  They inform you when you win and send you the money......

    helpmewin's avatar - dandy
    u$a
    United States
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    February 22, 2011
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    Posted: January 15, 2013, 9:59 am - IP Logged

    There's one advantage to online games......  They inform you when you win and send you the money......

    Mail For YouThumbs UpI Agree!Hyper

                     

      dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
      Oklahoma
      United States
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      November 12, 2009
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      Posted: January 15, 2013, 11:04 am - IP Logged

      "Millions in lottery winnings go unclaimed each year" That's why I check my tickets every draw......

      I Love Pink & Green 1908

        dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
        Oklahoma
        United States
        Member #82391
        November 12, 2009
        5409 Posts
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        Posted: January 15, 2013, 11:05 am - IP Logged

        There's one advantage to online games......  They inform you when you win and send you the money......

        Awesome, Oklahoma needs that.Thumbs Up

        I Love Pink & Green 1908

          HaveABall's avatar - rocket

          United States
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          March 18, 2009
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          Posted: January 15, 2013, 11:57 am - IP Logged

          There's one advantage to online games......  They inform you when you win and send you the money......

          True, Ronnie316, in most U.S.A. States, a player can log into their state's lottery headquarter website, create a membership, buy advance play drawing(s), pay with debit card, credit card, checking account funds, and the database will keep track of those $3 or whatever winning draw lines that you've previously purchased.  Nothing falls through the cracks!. 

          However, the bad/vital news is that nobody that has been playing this way has won a M.M. or Powerball JACKPOT or 2ND PLACE prize thus far!  Therefore, unappealing to those who's goal is to win either of these top prize levels!

          Sad

          Having millions of dollars in my financial accounts means more, consistent fun for me.Lovies

            rdgrnr's avatar - walt
            -Ridge Runner- Oracle of the Appalachians
            Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
            United States
            Member #73904
            April 28, 2009
            14903 Posts
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            Posted: January 15, 2013, 12:15 pm - IP Logged

            True, Ronnie316, in most U.S.A. States, a player can log into their state's lottery headquarter website, create a membership, buy advance play drawing(s), pay with debit card, credit card, checking account funds, and the database will keep track of those $3 or whatever winning draw lines that you've previously purchased.  Nothing falls through the cracks!. 

            However, the bad/vital news is that nobody that has been playing this way has won a M.M. or Powerball JACKPOT or 2ND PLACE prize thus far!  Therefore, unappealing to those who's goal is to win either of these top prize levels!

            Sad

            "in most U.S.A. States, a player can log into their state's lottery headquarter website, create a membership, buy advance play drawing(s)"

            In most states?

              RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
              mid-Ohio
              United States
              Member #9
              March 24, 2001
              17938 Posts
              Online
              Posted: January 15, 2013, 12:52 pm - IP Logged

              True, Ronnie316, in most U.S.A. States, a player can log into their state's lottery headquarter website, create a membership, buy advance play drawing(s), pay with debit card, credit card, checking account funds, and the database will keep track of those $3 or whatever winning draw lines that you've previously purchased.  Nothing falls through the cracks!. 

              However, the bad/vital news is that nobody that has been playing this way has won a M.M. or Powerball JACKPOT or 2ND PLACE prize thus far!  Therefore, unappealing to those who's goal is to win either of these top prize levels!

              Sad

              Logging into a lottery website, creating a membership and buying advance plays doesn't make winning any easier so why would that be unappealing to those who want to win?   Automatic checking of my tickets would be incentive enough for me to buy my tickets that way if it was available in my state.

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

                whiteballz's avatar - Lottery-015.jpg
                Nutley, New Jersey
                United States
                Member #131063
                August 1, 2012
                790 Posts
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                Posted: January 15, 2013, 12:58 pm - IP Logged

                I remember reading an article about Bladimir Agnite, a man who bought a winning Mega Millions jackpot ticket in California. One month after the drawing the winner didn't come forward, the California lottery commission decided to post surveillance pictures of Bladimir Agnite buying the ticket all over the newspapers and all over their website.

                I'd say one month was way too soon but if someone doesn't come forward after 11 months, I think releasing surveillance pictures would be a good idea.

                Don't get me wrong, I'd hate to have my pictures in the newspapers as much as anyone else but I'd hate to have a jackpot winning ticket expire even more.

                .

                  Avatar
                  Windermere, FL/Franklin, TN
                  United States
                  Member #50210
                  March 1, 2007
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                  Posted: January 15, 2013, 1:55 pm - IP Logged

                  I remember reading an article about Bladimir Agnite, a man who bought a winning Mega Millions jackpot ticket in California. One month after the drawing the winner didn't come forward, the California lottery commission decided to post surveillance pictures of Bladimir Agnite buying the ticket all over the newspapers and all over their website.

                  I'd say one month was way too soon but if someone doesn't come forward after 11 months, I think releasing surveillance pictures would be a good idea.

                  Don't get me wrong, I'd hate to have my pictures in the newspapers as much as anyone else but I'd hate to have a jackpot winning ticket expire even more.

                  I Agree! Given the choice between publicity or having a winning jackpot expire, I would gladly let my name be known. Fortunately, I only play a few times per year so verifying my tickets isn't too much of a problem.

                    noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                    Bay Area/ California
                    United States
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                    December 12, 2012
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                    Posted: January 15, 2013, 8:27 pm - IP Logged

                    You correct about this guy - however that store and the state had no reason to " out" that guy in the manner in which they did no matter how they want to explain it. The store keeper got his money and had no business  handing in the surveillance tape of the winner which l thought was totally unprofessional.
                    The Californian State lottery rules are to expose the name and the location of the store that sold the ticket. There is nothing about putting your picture on tv or even talking to the press about your windfall without your consent, I personally went by that store where the ticket was purchased and if that was the guy behind the counter who sold the ticket- that dude is as creepy as they come,shifty eyes and an attention whore. He asked if l wanted to became the newest millionaire and l just ignored him.
                    * That winner was from this city..5 minutes away.

                    * l guess l feared the store keeper would post my picture on tv as well for the fun of it....hell with that.

                      whiteballz's avatar - Lottery-015.jpg
                      Nutley, New Jersey
                      United States
                      Member #131063
                      August 1, 2012
                      790 Posts
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                      Posted: January 16, 2013, 2:19 am - IP Logged

                      You correct about this guy - however that store and the state had no reason to " out" that guy in the manner in which they did no matter how they want to explain it. The store keeper got his money and had no business  handing in the surveillance tape of the winner which l thought was totally unprofessional.
                      The Californian State lottery rules are to expose the name and the location of the store that sold the ticket. There is nothing about putting your picture on tv or even talking to the press about your windfall without your consent, I personally went by that store where the ticket was purchased and if that was the guy behind the counter who sold the ticket- that dude is as creepy as they come,shifty eyes and an attention whore. He asked if l wanted to became the newest millionaire and l just ignored him.
                      * That winner was from this city..5 minutes away.

                      * l guess l feared the store keeper would post my picture on tv as well for the fun of it....hell with that.

                      The California lottery had no right to release the winner's surveillance photo, especially only after one month after the drawing. What I'm saying is there might be a reason to release the surveillance photo under extreme circumstances, like if a multi-million dollar ticket was set to expire in a month.

                      .

                        helpmewin's avatar - dandy
                        u$a
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                        February 22, 2011
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                        Posted: January 16, 2013, 2:29 am - IP Logged

                        The California lottery had no right to release the winner's surveillance photo, especially only after one month after the drawing. What I'm saying is there might be a reason to release the surveillance photo under extreme circumstances, like if a multi-million dollar ticket was set to expire in a month.

                        maybe you don't like that idea, but if you going anywhere now days in public all you have is the right to remain silent and you better smileBig Grin because u are on camera somewhere.  and it's for your safety case you get lost the people can help you get back home.

                                         

                          justxploring's avatar - villiarna
                          Wandering Aimlessly
                          United States
                          Member #25360
                          November 5, 2005
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                          Posted: January 16, 2013, 2:36 am - IP Logged

                          Florida seems to have a lot of unclaimed tickets.  I think it's because of all the tourists.   Many of them are large jackpots too.

                            Factorem's avatar - candle

                            United States
                            Member #117708
                            October 12, 2011
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                            Posted: January 16, 2013, 3:56 am - IP Logged

                            The California lottery had no right to release the winner's surveillance photo, especially only after one month after the drawing. What I'm saying is there might be a reason to release the surveillance photo under extreme circumstances, like if a multi-million dollar ticket was set to expire in a month.

                            California Lottery may very well have the full rights to do what they did.

                            Buying a lottery ticket  in CA or in any other State constitutes a surrender of a player's rights to the rules of the Lottery, that owns and operates the lottery that sold the player the ticket.

                            Without knowing, what all is in the CA lottery rules, I would suspect that the right of the CA lottery to do what it did is somewhere in their lottery rules rights