A MEGA Millions player has finally turned in a winning ticket worth nearly $174 thousand after waiting for three months. The ticket was bought at a Super Serv Chevron mini-mart just outside Fairfield on Central Way.
The delay in collecting puzzled customers today.
“Why would you buy a Lotto ticket and not go claim it,” said Jason Goss.
Of course the winner may have fallen ill or been involved in a serious accident. Or maybe he or she didn’t need the money right away because wealthy people play the lottery too. But those aren’t likely explanations.
Lottery officials say just losing track of lottery tickets is more common than you might think. Currently there are about $1.1 million in unclaimed lottery winnings from four outstanding tickets. Diana Perry was buying 20 tickets for her lottery group at the store. She only checks her tickets every two weeks.
“What’s the use checking every time. We haven’t won yet and we’ve been playing a year and a half,”said Perry as she chuckled.
She did say she was going to check her tickets after finding out there was a big winner at the station.
Lottery officials urge players to sign their tickets in case they’re lost or stolen because the bearer has legal claim to any winnings. But they also say it’s important to keep tickets in plain sight,
“Like on a your dresser or bureau…don’t hide it away, don’t stick it somewhere where you never look because that’s when you forget,” said Russ Lopez, Corporate Communications Director for the California Lottery.
A case in point is disabled grandmother Julie Cervera of Palmdale who had her daughter buy her a ticket earlier this year. She put it in the console of her car and forgot about it. Just before the six month deadline to turn in winning tickets the State Lottery released surveillance video of her daughter buying the winning ticket at a local store. She started getting calls from friends and the next day her mother was accepting a check for $23 million.
“It really is going to change her life and the life of her family but had it not been for that photo, had it not been for that outreach she would have lost $23 million,” said Lopez.
The Lottery has a new policy of actively trying to locate large winners before the deadline when the state uses the money to finance schools.
In the last fiscal year $20 million in winnings went unclaimed.