Didn’t Hit the Lottery Jackpot? You May Still Be a Millionaire

Please don't make the mistake of tossing your ticket when you've heard that some other lucky person won the big prize.

Didn’t Hit the Lottery Jackpot? You May Still Be a Millionaire Photo (cc) by pirateyjoe

Last time you played the lottery and got wind that no one hit the jackpot, what did you do with the ticket?

My guess is that you tossed it in the nearest trash can without bothering to check your numbers, hoping for better luck next time. Smart move? Probably not.

With the near record Mega Millions jackpot of $636 million looming on the horizon, now is the perfect time to discuss lottery ticket etiquette, if you will.

About $800 million in lottery prizes, which equates to 2 percent of the total prize money distributed, goes unclaimed each year, says CNNMoney.

Many of the winning ticket holders are only eligible to collect a prize of a few dollars. But a select few have a bit more luck and can rake in a million or more. But what good is a winning ticket if the owner fails to redeem it in a timely manner to collect the winnings?

“Lottery tickets aren’t good forever — they must be cashed in by a deadline, which is generally between three and 12 months after a ticket is purchased, depending on the state,” CNNMoney says.

Unfortunately, expired tickets are a common occurrence nationwide.

Check out the list below for a few mind-blowing statistics from CNNMoney on unclaimed lottery winnings:

  • In the last fiscal year, the states of New York and California had unclaimed lottery winnings of $65 million and $22 million, respectively.
  • A Florida Powerball ticket worth $16 million expired in May.
  • Two New Jersey Powerball tickets worth $1 million expired in November.
  • A Florida Powerball ticket worth $1 million expired in October.

“You just hope for their sake that they never know they missed out,” Connie Barnes, communications director for the Florida lottery, told CNNMoney.

So, next time you play the lottery, be sure to check your numbers. You may not be the grand prize winner, but you may still be sitting on millions.

Did you throw away your last lottery ticket without checking the numbers? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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