It appears that Mega Millions players are about to join the ranks with lottery winners who lose out on a huge windfall.
Thursday, 5 p.m., will see the expiration of a $1 million ticket purchased in Lewisville North Carolina. This amount is a second-tier prize if you match five of the six numbers drawn in the lottery’s Dec. 31 draw.
“Sometimes people leave tickets in a nightstand, the glove compartment of cars and trucks, or in a wallet,” Mark Michalko said, executive director of the state lottery.
Michalko said, “Check any Mega Millions Tickets you have to see whether you have the one that won a $1,000,000 prize in this drawing.”
Mega Millions’ current jackpot is $360 million. Powerball’s top prize for Wednesday’s draw is $365 million.
However, some jackpot prizes have been lost over the years by winners of both national lotteries.
They range from a $16.5million prize (one-third a $50m jackpot split three ways) to a $77.1million prize from a Georgia ticket purchased in 2011. A $10 million Powerball ticket that was won in the “Double Play” feature of Powerball expired a few months ago in Maryland.
Other than the top prizes or second-tier prize amounts, lesser amounts can also go unclaimed. This could be due to losing a ticket, forgetting about reviewing the winning numbers, or other mishaps.
In addition to multistate lotteries, there are state-specific lotteries. These lottery prizes never reach the hands of winners.
California’s 2016 lottery draw saw no winner of a single $63 million prize.
Each state participating in Mega Millions and Powerball has its own rules regarding how long winners can claim their prizes. Some allow for three to six months, while some allow for one year.
What happens to unclaimed winnings, then? The money is generally returned to the states that sold the tickets.
It all depends on the state’s rules. In some cases, the funds are returned to players as bonus prizes or second-chance competitions. In some jurisdictions, the funds may also be used for education funding.
Mega Millions jackpot winners have a 1 in 302 million chance of winning. It’s 1 out 292 million for Powerball. The odds of the winner matching the five white balls in the $1 million expiring ticket were 1 in 12.6million