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Powerball players may want to make sure they’re looking more closely at their numbers after each drawing.
In about two weeks — on May 5 — a ticket purchased in Michigan a year earlier and worth $1 million will expire. And just last month in Maryland, no one came forward by the deadline to claim a $10 million Powerball prize.
“You need to check your ticket for all prize levels,” said Carole Gentry, spokesperson for Maryland Lottery and Gaming. “Just because you haven’t won the jackpot doesn’t mean you didn’t win another prize.”
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Powerball’s top prize for Wednesday night’s drawing is $370 million — making the unclaimed lower-tier prizes pale in comparison.
Yet some jackpot prizes also have gone unclaimed by their winners over the years in both Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries.
They range from a $16.5 million prize (one-third of a $50 million jackpot split three ways) from a ticket purchased in Florida in 2013 to a $77.1 million prize from a ticket purchased in Georgia in 2011.
And beyond the top prizes, there are lesser amounts that also can end up unclaimed, whether due to loss of a ticket, forgetting to review the winning numbers or other mishaps.
On top of the multistate games, there are state-specific lotteries with prizes that never make it into the hands of winners.
For instance, in California in 2016, no one came forward with a winning ticket for a single lottery prize worth $63 million.
Each state that participates in Powerball and Mega Millions has its own rules for how long winners get to claim their prizes. Some allow three or six months, while others provide a full year from the date of the drawing.
So what happens to those unclaimed winnings? Generally speaking, the money goes back to the states selling the tickets.
And from there, it depends on the state’s rules. In some jurisdictions, the funds must go back to players in the form of bonus prizes or second-chance contests. In other places, the unclaimed amounts also may go toward specific purposes such as education funding.
The chance of winning Mega Millions is 1 in about 302 million. For Powerball, it’s 1 in 292 million.