$14.6 Million Winning Lottery Ticket Expired Unclaimed

Thursday December 5th 2019

Someone won $14.6 million on the Arizona Lottery - but never showed up to claim the prize. The ticket holder had until December 2 at 5:00pm MST to come forward, but failed to do so. 

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The ticket was sold on June 5, 2019 at a Circle K store in Goodyear, Arizona, about 20 miles west of Phoenix. The winner had 180 days from the draw date to claim the prize.

The winning ticket was for "The Pick", a game exclusive to Arizona with a $1 million starting jackpot that keeps rolling until it's won. The winning numbers in the June 5 draw were 4, 14, 22, 24, 28, and 43. The odds of matching all six numbers to win the jackpot are 1 in 7,059,052.

We have no idea who the winner is - all we know is that they didn't show up by the deadline, meaning they have officially lost their claim to the jackpot. This is the biggest unclaimed prize in Arizona history; the previous record was a $4 million win from 1999. "To claim any prize of $600 or more, a winner needs to sign the back of their ticket and come to one of the Arizona Lottery's offices," Arizona Lottery public information officer John Gilliland said.

In November, the Arizona Lottery publicized the upcoming deadline in the hope that the winner would come forward. After all, we've heard about winning lottery tickets almost left behind on the store counter and dropped on the floor of a truck.

Unfortunately, the Arizona winner didn't respond to the messages. However, many Twitter users were quick to say they would be happy to take the jackpot off the state's hands.

"There is nothing more exciting for Arizona Lottery than to award a large jackpot, like this $14.6 million prize, so we are always a little sad when we see one of these prizes expire unclaimed," said Gregg Edgar, executive director of the Arizona Lottery.

Amazingly, billions of dollars in lottery prizes are left unclaimed every year. There were $2.89 billion in expired prizes in the 12 months up to June 2017, according to lottery expert Brett Jacobson, who used data from all the state lottery commissions for his research. In fiscal year 2017, 167 unclaimed prizes were worth $1 million or above, Jacobson's findings show.

In California in 2017, $36 million went uncollected. In North Carolina, players missed out on $10.36 million, while in South Dakota, they left $541,000 on the table. In Arizona, one winner failed to claim a $100,000 Powerball prize. 

The Arizona jackpot is not the biggest prize ever left unclaimed, though - that was a $77 million ticket purchased in Georgia in June 2011. Other unclaimed jackpots include a $31 million ticket bought in Queens, New York in August 2006, and the oldest unclaimed jackpot prize, a $68 million ticket purchased in New York on December 24, 2002.

But don't go searching behind the couch just yet - all of these prizes have expired, so the winning tickets have no value today.

In fiscal year 2019, Arizona saw over $11.6 million in prizes expire. Who decides what happens to all that money? A state prize statute specifies that the millions be distributed between community good causes and future lottery prizes. "These dollars will be utilized now to enhance our players' experiences with future games and fund a variety of beneficiaries that have tremendous impact for our community," Edgar said.

Around 30% of the money goes to the non-profit Court Appointed Special Advocates, where judges appoint volunteers to help abused or neglected children in court. Up to $835,000 goes to the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, which investigates and prosecutes those who exploit children online. Up to $250,000 is designated for the Dual Tribe Enrollment fund, a program for Native American high school students to take college courses for credit.

The remainder of the unclaimed money goes towards prizes for new games and second-chance drawings.

Why do so many prizes go unclaimed? Some states only give winners six months to come forward, so if you do find a winning ticket in the back of a drawer after that time, you're out of luck.

Many players also aren't aware that lotteries offer more than just the jackpot prize. "People don't even realize there are secondary prizes," Jacobson explained. These prizes can be substantial - Powerball and Mega Millions each have a $1 million second prize, which is multiplied if the winner has added the Power Play or Megaplier option.

However, if people hear the jackpot wasn't won or was won out of state, they often don't even check their tickets. Sometimes even winning scratch-off ticket prizes go unclaimed, said Jacobson.

How can you make sure you never leave a prize unclaimed?

  • Check your numbers after every draw. You can check Powerball and Mega Millions tickets from the past 365 days.
  • Sign your ticket and keep it in a safe place.
  • Check your state's deadline to claim.

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