Romeo’s cry of “I am Fortune’s fool” might also be the lament of lottery winners who never claim their big money prizes.
Certainly, reasons for not coming forward exist: maybe losing a ticket or forgetting to check their numbers. And even the most altruistic winner would likely not want to forfeit their prize and have it transferred to the Louisiana Lottery for future payouts, which is the lottery’s standard procedure for unclaimed prizes.
But that’s what will happen if a $200,000 Powerball player doesn’t redeem their winning ticket — purchased in Westwego and still unclaimed — by two days after Christmas.
Quick & Karry on W.B. Expressway sold the winning ticket. Claiming it by the expiration date of Dec. 27 could definitely make for a nicer holiday season for its holder.
In addition to that Powerball jackpot — drawn on June 30 with the numbers 24, 29, 50, 65, 66 and a Powerball of 14 — two others worth $167,302 and $203,471 and two more worth $50,000 each await redemption.
This summer, a $500,000 lottery prize remained unclaimed less than a month before it was going to expire. That winning ticket was sold in LaPlace and matched all six numbers.
Where have all the $10,000 Louisiana Lottery winners gone?
There seems to be a run over the years of unclaimed $10,000 winners through the Louisiana Lottery. The most recent prize of that amount was due to expire Oct. 6 if no one redeemed the winning ticket bought in Shreveport.
And someone purchased a Mega Millions ticket in Chalmette worth $10,000 but it still hadn’t been claimed as of June 1, a month before it would expire.
Also, in 2019, a Mega Ball ticket was sold in Ponchatoula. The drawing took place Feb. 26, but five months later, still no one had stepped up to claim the $10,000 prize set to expire in August.
Louisianans aren’t alone. Americans forfeit around $2 billion per year in unclaimed jackpot prizes. The largest unclaimed jackpots in US lottery history include:
- $77.1 million: Powerball, 2011 (Georgia)
- $68 million: Mega Millions, 2002 (New York)
- $63 million: Super Lotto, 2015 (California)
- $51.7 million: Powerball, 2002 (Indiana
- $46 million: Mega Millions, 2003 (New York)
- $31 million: Mega Millions, 2006 (New York)
- $16.6 million: Powerball, 2013 (Florida)
- $14.6 million: The Pick, 2019 (Arizona)
Sometimes, kindness saves would-be unclaimed lottery prizes…
Maybe you can’t always rely on the kindness of strangers, but they do come through sometimes.
In 2019, Mike Weirsky got distracted by his cell phone and left behind lottery tickets he’d just purchased in New Jersey. At the time, he was unemployed and recently divorced. Missing out on $273 million he’d actually won would certainly have been a hat trick of bad luck. Fortunately, a Good Samaritan/guardian angel named Phil Campolo noticed the forgotten tickets and handed them back to the store.
Weirsky realized his error just hours before the drawing and went back to the store, where his tickets were returned to him. He ultimately chose the $162 million lump-sum payout from his winnings.
Said Campolo: “My parents raised me to be a good person, honest, sincere. I was doing the right thing, and I’d do it again.”
… Other times, lottery greed takes over
But not everyone is as honorable as Mr. Campolo.
That could be why the Louisiana Lottery recommends protecting tickets and any possible winnings by signing tickets as soon after purchase as possible and before claiming prizes at participating retailers.
More “Player Protection Tips,” instructions (such as deadlines) on claiming prizes and updated information on unclaimed jackpots can be found at the Louisiana Lottery’s website.