$38M Winning Lottery Ticket Claimed Day it Expired

The owner of a winning California lottery ticket got incredibly lucky last week in more than one way. The winner ran into a San Diego lottery office just before it closed on Thursday, which was the deadline to claim the ticket. The prize – from a SuperLotto Plus drawing back on April 30 – was $38 million.

Lottery ticket purchase
Lottery ticket purchase
Holders of winning lottery tickets typically have 180 days from the date of the drawing to claim their prizes. (Image: the-sun.com)

According to a news release from the California Lottery, the ticket matched all six winning numbers: 3, 15, 21, 35, 46 and the Mega number, 18. The odds of matching all five numbers and the Mega number were 1 in 41,416,353, according to the release.

SuperLotto Plus winners have 180 days from the date of the drawing to claim their prize. And officials say there is a robust process to vet claims for large prizes ahead of declaring anyone a winner.

“Our investigative process for big winners is rigorous and thorough, which means it can take weeks or even months, depending on the circumstances,” Carolyn Becker, California Lottery spokesperson, said in a press release on Friday. “Because of that, we probably won’t know for quite some time whether the person who came in yesterday is indeed the rightful winner of the $38 million prize. If so – we will make that announcement once the vetting process is complete.”

The California Lottery has recorded more than $1 billion in unclaimed prizes since lottery tickets first went on sale in 1985. The winnings all go to public schools in the state. The most common reason prizes go unclaimed is winners throwing out their tickets. This happens either by mistake or after they don’t win the jackpot – though their tickets claimed a smaller prize by matching fewer numbers.

World’s Largest Unclaimed Jackpots

The world record for the largest unclaimed lottery jackpot is $77 million. It was set by a ticket purchased in Georgia for the Powerball drawing on June 29, 2011. An unclaimed ticket for the equivalent of $74 million – purchased in Hertfordshire, UK – expired after passing its 180-day limit on Dec. 5, 2012. This happened despite a billboard campaign for the winner to step forward.

A winning Mega Millions ticket worth $68 million was purchased in Queens, New York for a drawing on Christmas Eve 2002. After it expired, a man named Fritzner Bechette tried to claim the prize without producing the ticket. After his request was denied, he sued the New York State Lottery, claiming the ticket disappeared in a “non-retrievable situation.” After a thorough investigation, the claim was determined to be fraudulent.

In February 2016, a winning SuperLotto Plus ticket worth $63 million expired in California. A man named Brandy Milliner turned in a ticket matching the winning numbers. And, though Lottery officials initially responded with a congratulatory note, they later determined that his ticket was purchased on a different date, and at a different location, than the one that won.

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