Winning the lottery is something that everyone dreams of, but not claiming your winnings is a nightmare. The majority of unclaimed lottery prizes are smaller prizes that players have forgotten about or misplaced. Now and then there are huge unclaimed lotto jackpots that leave the rest of us speechless.
UK National Lottery - £1.6 Million
What makes this particular unclaimed UK Lottery jackpot unusual is that the top prize was won by two tickets and neither one of them came forward to collect their life-changing win! The winning tickets were purchased in Glasgow and Warwickshire. With no one coming forward to claim the jackpot, the prize money went to Good Causes.
Even though the jackpot was still a sizeable amount, it’s not the biggest unclaimed lottery jackpot in the UK, as that title goes to a EuroMillions jackpot that we have covered below. Hopefully, the winners never know that they owned the winning tickets. Imagine if you knew the winning numbers were yours and you misplaced your ticket?
UK Lottery - £9.4 Million
Another UK Lottery jackpot win that went unclaimed received a huge amount of publicity at the time. The lottery organization, Camelot, revealed that the winning ticket worth a massive £9.4 million had been purchased in the Yorkshire town of Doncaster. This prompted news crews and journalists to do their own investigations in the town. News travelled to such an extent that even the town crier got involved. Unfortunately, the winner was never found.
Mega Millions - $31 Million
In 2006 a $31 million Mega Millions jackpot went unclaimed. The winner was traced down to the Queens area, but that’s where it ended.
With millions of players purchasing Mega Millions and Powerball lottery tickets, there have been numerous unclaimed jackpot prizes over the years.
Mega Millions - $46 Million
For some reason, some of the biggest unclaimed lottery prizes seem to come from the state of New York. In this case, a very unlucky lottery player missed winning $46 million on the Mega Millions draw that took place on the 25th of April in 2006.
In New York, unclaimed lottery prize money is returned to the state’s prize pool. These funds are used to subsidize prizes for larger jackpots and promotions.
Powerball - $51.7 million
$51.7 million went unclaimed on Powerball. The only information organisers knew was that the winning ticket was purchased in Indiana, near the Indianapolis International airport. This would be the first time since US Powerball was established in 1992, that a jackpot would go unclaimed.
The draw in question offered up a massive $103 million jackpot and two tickets split the prize. The other half was fortunately claimed by a lucky player from Pennsylvania.
In an effort to find the winner, the organisers ran commercials on various radio stations where the ticket was purchased but no one came forward to claim the prize.
EuroMillions - £65 Million
Like most lottery jackpot winners, the only information known is where the ticket was purchased. In 2012, the UK saw the biggest unclaimed lottery jackpot worth an incredible £65 Million!
Even though the winner had six months in which to claim their EuroMillions lottery jackpot prize, they did not, despite the best efforts of Camelot. The prize was donated to the National Lottery Good Causes fund.
Mega Millions - $68 million
While Mega Millions players were glued to the live draw to see if their lucky Mega Millions lottery numbers would pop out the draw machine and see themselves $68 million richer, someone forgot all about their lottery ticket.
The winning Mega Millions ticket was, once again, purchased in New York with the win left unclaimed until it surpassed the expiration date.
The story doesn’t end here though. A year later, Fritzner Bechette came forward to lottery officials claiming that he was the lucky winner!
Even though he was aware of the cut-off period in which to claim the prize, he still filed a lawsuit in the Queens Supreme Court against the New York State Lottery. He said that he had been trying to claim his $68 million jackpot prize since the day after the results were announced.
He consequently sued the New York Lottery for the $63 million jackpot he lost plus interest. His reason for not being able to claim it? His winning lottery ticket conveniently went missing in a “non-retrievable situation”.
Powerball - $77 million
Powerball eventually took the title of the biggest unclaimed jackpot when a single ticket from Georgia failed to claim their $77 million win. The winner had 180 days in which to remember they had a ticket, double-check and claim the win. Unfortunately, that never happened and they missed out on the prize.
The record-breaking Mega Millions nearly went unclaimed
Mega Millions lottery players waited in anticipation, for what seemed like an eternity, to finally see who won the record-breaking $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot.
The jackpot was the second-biggest jackpot in U.S. history and was held in October of 2018. The only information lottery organisers had was that the ticket was purchased in South Carolina.
While it’s not unusual for jackpot winners to take their time to claim their wins, the fact that this particular winner was cutting it fine, made some think that no one was going to come forward.
With the jackpot soaring to an unprecedented jackpot amount, a surge in first-time lottery players took place. As hopefuls had never played the lottery before, remembering to watch the draw live or double-checking their tickets might not have been front of mind.
Thankfully, the lucky winner came forward just in time to claim the extraordinary jackpot. They took the lump-sum, one-time cash payment of $877 million.
When lottery officials asked the winner why he had taken so long to claim the massive prize, he said he had been getting financial and legal advice.
As the winner opted to remain anonymous, his name or whereabouts are currently unknown.
Why do winnings go unclaimed?
Every year, enormous sums of lottery prizes go unclaimed. Americans lose around $2 billion every year in unclaimed prizes with $103 million lost in New York alone.
Camelot claimed that between 2017 and 2018, roughly £122.5 million in lottery winnings went unclaimed by UK citizens. But why? What could be the reason that so many prizes go unclaimed and is there anything that can be done to ensure that this doesn’t happen?
One of the most common reasons prizes go unclaimed is that when people see that they didn’t win the jackpot, they automatically assume they didn’t win any lottery prize. Even if you match only a few numbers, you’re still eligible for incredible secondary prizes! Also, when people see that somebody else won the jackpot, they are more likely to feel discouraged enough that they won’t even check if they won smaller prizes. We think this is a huge mistake because secondary prizes can go from thousands to millions!
Another reason why billions of dollars in prize winnings are lost every year is people losing or mistakenly throwing out their tickets! This happens way more often than you would think.
With our busy lives, people barely remember when the draw is, much less to where they placed their ticket. This point brings up the advantage of playing the lottery online. By doing so, you will never lose your lottery ticket and you will be contacted personally to inform you of the incredible news.