SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Millions of dollars in prize money get handed out in California every year, but some of the lottery tickets that are winners do not get claimed and the money from these tickets gets distributed elsewhere.

According to the California State Lottery, Powerball winners who match some of the numbers have 180 days from the date of the draw to claim their winnings.

There are multiple ways to claim a California Lottery prize and details can be found here. Once the claim is processed, the winner receives a check in the mail in about seven to nine weeks.  

What happens when a lottery ticket goes unclaimed? 

Once a ticket is unclaimed, the prize expires and the winnings go to public schools in California. According to California State Lottery, the lottery solely exists to generate extra money for public education. 

According to the lottery’s website, its mission is to “provide supplemental funding to California public schools.” 

Since lottery tickets first went on sale in 1985, public schools in California have been given more than $39 billion, according to the lottery’s website. During the 2020-21 fiscal year, the lottery said it gave public schools over $1.8 billion, which is about $1 of the state’s annual budget for public education, the lottery said. 

When money is distributed to public schools, the lottery said the State Controller’s Office determines how much of the lottery’s funds are dispersed. The money is distributed to public schools from elementary grades all the way to college-level education institutions. 

According to the lottery website, these are the type of schools that have received funds, along with their percentages of distributions: 

  • Grades K-12 — 79.9%
  • Community colleges — 14%
  • California State University system — 3.7%
  • University of California — 2.3%
  • Other educational entities — 0.1 %

The money is distributed to several school districts and counties throughout the state. 

The lottery unveiled an interactive tool that lets the public track down how much funding area schools received from the lottery. The tool is an interactive map allows people to how see how many is broken down by county.

According to the map, $21,750,712 million was allocated to Sacramento County during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year in 2021-22.  

When it comes to districts, the most recent funds that the Sacramento City Unified School District received were over $2. 8 million, and that money was distributed to each school.