Let's say you opened your Tulsa World to Page 3, checked your Powerball numbers in the top right-hand corner — same as you do every Thursday and Sunday — and found you had a perfect, exact match.
Let's say that made the ticket worth $101.8 million.
Would you run screaming down the street?
Call everybody you know — and maybe everybody in the phone book?
For the holder of a winning Powerball ticket sold in Broken Arrow about three weeks ago, the answer to at least two of those questions is no.
Since the numbers 10-20-22-39-48 and Powerball number 25 were drawn June 17, there has been only silence.
"We haven't heard anything," said Rollo Redburn, Oklahoma Lottery Commission director of administration. "We have no idea who has it."
The total payout would be almost $102 million if taken in 29 annual installments, or $46.2 million if taken in a single lump sum. It is the largest jackpot for a ticket sold in Oklahoma during the state's brief lottery history.
One might think, as excited as people get just winning a bingo game at a school fundraiser, that a prize of this magnitude would be impossible to keep to yourself. But, in fact, that's what big winners tend to do.
"From what we understand, this is not that unusual," said Redburn. "What we hope is happening is that the winner is busy getting financial and legal advice so that everything will be in order when they claim the prize."
Two years ago, a Virginia couple waited six weeks before collecting a $141.5 million Mega Millions jackpot. They said they wanted "to get our ducks in a row" before cashing in.
Lottery officials actually advise winners to take their time. "Sudden money," as some call it, can be overwhelming and even troublesome.
In Oklahoma, winners have 180 days to redeem Powerball and Pick 3 tickets, 90 days for scratch-offs. Others states allow up to a year for Powerball, its competitor Mega Millions and other large payout games.
Still, 2 1/2 weeks seems to be at the long end for intentional delays. Among other things, it has cost the winner about $64,000 in lost interest — based on a lump sum net of $31.8 million, after federal and state withholding taxes, invested at 5 percent in 1-year certificates of deposit compounded daily.
So, with each passing day, the possibility increases that the ticket is lost or the buyer has forgotten about it.
In 1999, Gwen Rackley of Kansas City, Mo., discovered a ninth-month-old ticket worth $650,000 in the pocket of some summer pants she had stored in her attic.
Two years later, Melvin B. Milligan of Passaic, N.J., was rummaging through a junk drawer when he found a Mega Millions ticket he had bought nearly a year earlier. Confirming the ticket was worth $46 million, Milligan simply dropped it in the mail to the state lottery office. It arrived three days after lottery officials declared the one-year deadline passed.
Fortunately for Milligan, the envelope was postmarked two days before the deadline.
Milligan and Rackley both would have been out of luck in Oklahoma, with its six-month redemption period.
Millions of dollars in lottery prizes go unclaimed every year. The Oklahoma Lottery has more than $1.3 million currently outstanding, not including the big prize.
Each state has its own rules for dealing with unclaimed prizes. Powerball jackpots are returned to the participating states in proportion to their ticket sales.
Oklahoma earmarks the first $500,000 to the Department of Mental Health, with the remainder going back into the lottery.
Most unclaimed prizes are relatively small, but in 2002 someone bought a Powerball ticket at a convenience store near Indianapolis International Airport that turned out to be worth $51.7 million.
It was never cashed.