17 Nov Good Luck Gone Bad: $15 Million in Lottery Payments Goes Unclaimed In Florida
Losing a $15 dollar scratch-off winner can ruin an entire week. Now imagine what you’d do if you missed out on $15 million in lottery payments. That’s what just happened to one unlucky-lucky lottery player in the state of Florida, according to the local Memphis-area Fox affiliate MyFoxMemphis.com.
Lottery officials said the expiration date to claim the prize was at the end of October for the drawing the happened on April 22. The Beer and Liquor Store, located in western Lake Worth, was the establishment that sold the winning ticket.
“I have no clue what happened,” said Nimesh Patel, the store’s owner. “They must have lost the ticket.”
The only other rationale Patel could come up with was that the person who bought the ticket was a ‘snowbird,’ or someone who lives in a warmer climate area like Florida for the winter months before returning to their colder home for the friendlier time periods. They could have bought the ticket before heading back and completely forgot to check if they had won or not.
Either way the winner won’t be choosing between lump sum versus annuity settlement-style payout in this situation. Most lottery jackpots give you this option. For example the Mega Millions can be paid out in a lottery annuity that has one immediate payout followed by 29 annual lottery payments that increase by 5%.
As unfortunate an incident as it is for the would-be winner, it’s another example of a phenomenon that’s not so uncommon, according to lottery officials.
“It’s not common for a jackpot this big to expire,” said Keri Nucatola, a Florida Lottery spokeswoman.
According to Nucatola, there is no official data or statistics on incidents of winning lottery tickets going unclaimed, but at least one very similar situation occurred in the Tampa area two years ago. In that situation a $16 million Powerball ticket went unclaimed past the six months winners are allotted. About 48% of lottery winners continue working, but both of these ‘winners’ could have chosen to never work another day in their life if they’d played their cards right.
Unfortunately, they were sitting on a royal flush when they made the mistake of walking away from the table.
In lieu of lottery payments being made to the winner, 80% of the money will go into the Educational Enhancement Fund, which the lottery supports, and 20% will be used by the lottery to fund new games and promotions.
It’s a good deal for the lottery officials, but it’s not the way they want to see their games played out.
“We want our winners to come forward, ” Nucatola said. “We send out press releases and post on social media to try to find those winners.”
Perhaps it all worked out for the best. There’s always the chance that a big lottery winner will make poor decisions and end up ruining their lives completely. Overall, 70% of winners lose or spend all their money within five years.