It's hard to believe, however, each and every year dozens of major jackpot lottery winners don't claim their winnings. Could of, would of, should of … all the would-be winner had to do was check their ticket.
Millions have gone unclaimed for years and it continues to rise. The chances of winning are already so slim, why buy a ticket and at least not check?
I remember my Dad visiting me and he brought over the tickets he purchased. As he had the newspaper to check, he started rifling through the many tickets he had purchased. He then stopped and his jaw fell and he kept saying over and over again "Oh my God!"
After what seemed like forever, he started to read off the numbers. First one, then the other, until he had the first five in a row. When he got to the sixth number, he missed it by one. It was a 32 and he had 31. Damn! He didn't win the $ 6 million, but he was happy – for $ 1.00, he won $ 660. Not a bad day.
In 2002, $ 4.6 million went wanting and waiting in Massachusetts. That same year, nobody stepped up to claim $ 51.7 million in Indiana -the largest prize to go uncollected on record. In 2005, Illinois reported an unclaimed jackpot of $ 14 million. Indiana, that same year reported winnings of more than $ 5 million that stayed in the pot. Massachusetts had approximately $ 4.6 million. Somewhere between 2008 and 2009, $ 45 million went or should I say, stayed where it was, unclaimed.
Connecticut went for close to 10 years without a winning ticket passing her by. If a ticket goes unclaimed, it is now known as the Clarence Jackson, Jr. jackpot. This is because in 1996, Clarence was just 3 days late in claiming his prize within the time limit and missed it – $ 5.8 million. This state has had 1.100 winning jackpots since 1972 and has had only 11 gone unclaimed in all that time.
Each state has its own time frame for when a lottery ticket can be turned in and validated. That time frame can vary from as early as 3 months to a year.
Dawn Nettles, who is the editor of The Lotto Report, a newsletter that covers lotteries, says that computer scanning errors can cost lottery winners their prizes. There is a case of a computer error that was uncovered in Ohio back in 1996. A winning ticket for $ 267 million was not validated properly due to a computer glitch. The ticket had to be validated through other methods. The glitch in the computer was eventually fixed and the ticket was paid, however, these things do happen.
If you buy lottery tickets on a regular basis and you save your older ones, John Charleson, New York Lottery spokesman says' Check your tickets! You never know. ' A USA Today survey states that close to ½ a billion dollars of unclaimed lottery money has been reported to date.