What if you reached into your pocket and found $50,000 you didn’t know you had?
But what if you reached into your pocket and found a winning Missouri Lottery ticket worth $50,000 you’d forgotten about … and the deadline to claim it had just passed?
The latter scenario just played out for one unclaimed Missouri Lottery prize winner who failed to claim their Powerball jackpot by last week’s deadline of April 7.
Price Chopper at 2600 Ensign Hill Drive in Platte City sold the winning Match 4 plus Powerball ticket on Oct. 9, 2021. The winning numbers for that date were 12-17-30-45-62 with a red Powerball of 5.
‘I am fortune’s fool’ — Romeo Montague
Sure, there are reasons why any of us might forget to check our tickets and unwittingly let our winnings end up as another unclaimed Missouri lottery prize.
Someone could be too busy to watch a drawing or forget about it entirely, or they could go to sleep before the drawing — and then forget to check the numbers belatedly. Or someone might think a ticket is lost and happen upon it much later.
But chances are very few of us are saintly or wealthy enough to want to forfeit our winnings even if they then go to Missouri’s public education. That’s where unclaimed Missouri lottery prize dollars end up.
Maryland Lottery spokesman Seth Elkin told the Bethesda Beat that most unclaimed prizes in his state tend to be for smaller amounts. And according to lottery.com, it’s uncommon for sizeable Mega Millions or Powerball jackpots to expire unclaimed because so much media attention focuses on the winning numbers and whichever store sold the winning ticket.
However, according to lottery.net, billions of prize dollars go uncollected every year, including the $2.89 billion in lottery winnings that went unclaimed from June 2016 to June 2017.
Of course, even small ones across the country add up. Still, big jackpots going unspoken for — or close calls — might not prove as rare as a comedy winning the Oscar. Here are a few:
- The show-me-no money state. This past June, a $1 million Powerball Match 5 prize lingered unclaimed; the Missouri winner had until July 15 to claim their jackpot.
- No snooze alarm. On March 28, the deadline for a Maryland $10 million lottery winner came and went when the 182-day claim window closed.
- Schools out. In October 2018, someone in South Carolina won a $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot (only the second-biggest jackpot in US history, though). Now, granted, maybe they fainted at their incredible good fortune, but still — it took the winner 132 of the allotted 180 days to claim it. Had they never come forward to claim their one-time cash payment of $877 million, that jackpot would have bought a megaton of school supplies and South Carolina might have been known for having diamond-encrusted school desks.
- Fa-la-la-la-let-down. In Arizona, someone had a regretful little Christmas in December 2019 when their $14.6 million prize expired unclaimed.
Better to have loved a jackpot and lost it?
Then there are the unlucky ones who did stay on top of their lottery tickets and won… and then lost.
- 7-second delay. Joel Ifergan seemed to have won a $27 million Canadian lottery jackpot — except that his ticket printed out seven seconds after the drawing’s deadline. Canada’s Supreme Court ruled against the unlucky winner when he contested it.
- Never send a boy to do a man’s job. In 2017, California’s Ward Thomas thought he and his family had gotten $5 million richer — but his 16-year-old son had purchased the scratch-off ticket at a Mobil station. And in California, like in Missouri, you have to be 18 to purchase a lottery ticket. In 2018, a judge dismissed the ensuing lawsuit.
Claiming prizes at the Missouri Lottery
The Missouri Lottery recommends you safeguard any winnings by signing and filling out your ticket immediately upon purchase.
Prizes must be claimed within 180 days of the draw date in Missouri. For further instructions, visit Missouri Lottery.