Oh, what might have been. ...
Would-be millionaires searched for stray Washington Lotto tickets in hopes that one held the winning combination for a $1.2 million jackpot that had to be claimed by 5 p.m. yesterday.
"As far as we know, it hasn't been redeemed yet," said Nick Waldbillig, night manager of the Bremerton Safeway where the ticket was bought Oct. 27. There has been "a lot of buzz around it, though. Everybody who regularly buys tickets here, they all claim it's theirs."
The $1.2 million jackpot was the largest of the prizes currently listed as unclaimed in Washington's Lottery, according to the Lottery Web site.
Lottery spokeswomen did not return phone calls yesterday to confirm that the winning ticket had not been turned in by the 180-day deadline.
When prizes go unclaimed, the money is returned to lottery players in some form. It could be added to the Lotto Jackpot, for instance, or distributed through promotions, according to the Lottery Web site.
News of the unclaimed prize prompted some customers of the North Callow Avenue Safeway to search at great lengths for old tickets. One man told Waldbillig that he tore up his home looking for a ticket that he might have misplaced.
"He found four of them, but none of them were winners," he said.
To his knowledge, the flush ticket is the largest winner that his Safeway has sold, said Waldbillig, who has worked there for five years.
Another Bremerton store sold a winning Quinto ticket worth $4.86 million in March.
The winner of that jackpot nearly lost it when she left her ticket at a Fred Meyer store and it ended up in the trash. Employees found the ticket and returned it to the woman.
People have been floating theories about the Safeway ticket's fate, said Waldbillig. One of them: A sailor bought it and shipped out to sea.
"My personal opinion," Waldbillig said, "somebody bought it and forgot about it."
The winning numbers were 2, 9, 16, 22, 29, 46.