California's public schools appeared to be the big winners Monday night when a $28.5 million lottery ticket went unclaimed after six months.
This was the 14th - and largest - unclaimed jackpot since the lottery started in 1985, according to lottery officials. All unclaimed money goes to the state's public schools.
"We were excited about it, but no one's come in," California Lottery spokeswoman Rosa Escutia said shortly after the deadline.
Escutia said lottery officials probably will hold a press conference Thursday in Sacramento at the Department of Education, the default winners of the prize money. All unclaimed lottery prizes go to California public schools.
Since 1985, schools have collected $519 million, thanks to unclaimed prize money. And a total of $15 billion has been awarded to the campuses: 34 percent of each claimed prize goes to the schools.
Lottery representatives are waiting until Thursday to make the announcement official, to see if the winner decided to mail in the winning ticket and postmark it by 5 p.m. Monday.
But Escutia admitted chances of that are slim.
This is the 14th time that a Quick Pick jackpot has gone unclaimed. On Sept. 10, the winning numbers were: 34, 43, 27, 20, 7 and Mega Number 6.
The ticket in question was purchased from Kavanagh's Liquors in San Lorenzo, which already has claimed its share of the prize -- one half of 1 percent of the total, or $142,500. The store has sold a total of four winning jackpot tickets, making it the luckiest retailer in Northern California, lottery officials said.
The last time a winner waited until the last minute to claim such a hefty prize was March 2001, when Ruben and Michelle Montoya of San Bernardino marched to their district lottery office claiming a $11 million SuperLotto Plus jackpot on the 179th day. They figured out they held the winning ticket after seeing heavy news coverage about the unclaimed prize.
Lottery officials don't keep a list of the crazy reasons people have given for waiting until the 11th hour to claim their dough. But the most common explanations are that the ticket was misplaced or that the owners don't believe they're going to win and leave the paper stubs unchecked, Escutia said.
So far, no one has come banging on a lottery official's door on the 181st day, demanding payment past the deadline.
"That would just be horrible," Escutia said. "I'm so glad we haven't had that happen."