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Just How Much Lottery Money Is Unclaimed? Alot!

Tons of people were caught up this week in the Powerball mania.  Why not, with $579 million on the line?  What’s unbelievable is the amount of unclaimed lottery winnings.  It’s more than Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot!

While watching Piers Morgan on CNN Wednesday night, I was shocked to hear that around $800 million in lottery winnings went unclaimed last year.  $800 million?  According to CNN Money, nearly $40 billion in prizes were awarded last year in U.S. lotteries and $800 million was never claimed.  How does that  happen?  Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association told CNN that people who’ve won second-prize Powerball amounts often don’t check their tickets.  Once they see they didn’t win the top amount, they fail to check their numbers for getting five numbers right.  Typically, the big lottery jackpot amounts are collected but not the second-prize amounts.  So for Wednesday’s Powerball, 58 players who got five numbers right won a million each.  Plus, an additional eight tickets are worth two million each because they paid extra to double lesser prize amounts.  Will they come forward to claim their prizes?  Chances are good some won’t.  Often when the amount gets as big as it did Wednesday, people who don’t normally play the lottery buy tickets, and they may not realize there are secondary prizes.  Typically, winners have six to twelve months to claim their prize money, although rules differ between states.  What happens to the unclaimed money?  It goes back to the state.    If you bought a ticket for Wednesday’s Powerball, check those numbers again.  You may have won some money after all!

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

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