State no longer publishes surveillance video of ticket purchases to find winners
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A $63 million Super Lotto prize may become the largest unclaimed prize in California, but many prizes big and small go unclaimed every year, a spokesperson for the California Lottery Commission said Saturday.
Roughly $25 million per year in winnings are not claimed, said Alex Traverso.
"So, it's quite a bit of money when you add it up," he said.
The lottery winner in Southern California still has not claimed the prize, more than four months after the ticket was purchased and nearly one week after news media statewide publicized the unclaimed winnings.
The winning ticket was sold in August at the 7-Eleven located at 20871 Lassen Street in Chatsworth. It successfully matched the numbers 1, 16, 30, 33, and 46, plus the Mega number 24.
Lottery officials say people commonly tuck their tickets away and forget to check them. Yet, officials remain confused over what happened to the $63 million ticket.
"When we get to this point, we start to worry about the person having lost the ticket," Traverso said. "I mean, that's what happens. It's been four months."
Just this week, the lottery commission announced another big win in Carmichael was unclaimed for more than two months. The winning numbers were announced September 23. The winner, Paul Matson, came forward this week to claim a $671,000 Powerball prize.
Matson buys tickets occasionally, keeps them in a drawer, keeps track of the expiration dates and checks the tickets before they expire, the commission said in a written statement.
Another high-profile lottery win was widely publicized on television three years ago. Surveillance video showed the winner buying his ticket at an East Bay convenience store.
In August 2012, Bladimir Agnite said he received a call from a relative telling him his image appeared on television. Only then did he and his wife re-check their ticket; it was a $52 million winner.
Lottery officials now say the use of surveillance video hasn't proven completely effective in identifying winners and can create other problems. They no longer do it, making it less likely that the Chatsworth winner will see an image of himself or herself on TV.
The Chatsworth winner has until February 4 to come forward, or the winnings will go to California schools.
People buying tickets in Sacramento on Saturday insisted this is a problem they wouldn't have.
"I wish that was me," said Jackie Peppers, who was buying lotto tickets and scratchers in the Land Park neighborhood. "It would get claimed. It would have been claimed."
If the winner comes forward and decides to take the lump sum amount, they will receive a one-time payout of $39.9 million before federal taxes. Otherwise, the $63 million will be spread out over 30 years.
If this prize is never claimed, it would become the largest California Lottery prize ever to go unclaimed. In fact, it would more than double the current record, which is a $28.5 million jackpot that was won on a SuperLotto Plus ticket sold in San Lorenzo (Alameda County) back in 2003.
A combined total of $27.2 million in California Lottery prizes went unclaimed during the entire Fiscal Year 2014-15. That includes the full range of prizes from unclaimed $1 wins on up to the $1,098,624 Powerball ticket sold in Rosemead (Los Angeles County) that expired on March 12.
Regardless of whether anyone comes forward in the Chatsworth win, the 7-11 store that sold the winning ticket still received a $315,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket. Because the retailer bonus is from a separate fund, retailers do not have to wait for the winner to come forward to get paid.
The overall odds of winning any SuperLotto Plus prize are about 1 in 23 and the odds of hitting the jackpot are about 1 in 42 million.
SuperLotto Plus is California's own in-state jackpot game. Players pick five numbers from 1 to 47 plus a Mega number from 1 to 27. The draw takes place at Lottery Headquarters in Sacramento Wednesdays and Saturdays, right after draw entry closes at 7:45 p.m. PT.
SuperLotto Plus tickets cost $1 per play, and the winning numbers are published on Lottery Post's California Lottery Results page soon after each drawing.