Why do Millionaire Winning Lottery Tickets go unclaimed?

With news in the press of an unclaimed Powerball win worth 33Million RA, some people have started to ponder about why lottery players might choose not to claim their winnings. Have they changed their mind about wanting a life changing amount of money? Or have they simply not checked the numbers? 

In lottery history, both in South Africa and across the world, millions of dollars of unclaimed winnings are put back into the lottery prize fund or transferred to the charitable cause’s pot every year. 

R33 Million Unclaimed

According to the Times Live the R33 Million winning Powerball ticket that was drawn on the 5th April 2013 is still going unclaimed. This has got people all over the country wishing that they were lucky enough to claim such a prize, of which its winning ticket could have been forgotten about, sitting in a drawer somewhere or worse yet, even been lost or thrown in the bin.

A recent example of someone who actually did bin their winning ticket, and then saw their $1.25 million prize expire, came in Pensylvania. The regular lottery player extraordinarily thought that he didn’t have the winning numbers and so threw his ticket away, only to be informed that he actually had matched the winning numbers. The full story can be read at:  http://www.lottery24.com/page/news?date/2014-04-14/title/Lottery-prize-goes-unclaimed-because-winner-threw-tickets-in-the-trash

Lost Millions

This is not the first time such a huge amount of money has gone unclaimed. In June 2012 the winning jackpot for the Euro Millions, a European wide Lottery, was worth £64 million. That’s over a billion South African Rand. The lottery officials knew where in the UK the ticket was bought from but despite publishing this information no-one came forward. After 180 days (half the time you have to claim a win in South Africa) the winner had not claimed the prize which meant the money went to the British National Lottery’s charitable cause’s pot. 

In the US alone around $800 million dollars (R8.5 billion) go unclaimed every year, although much of this amount is made up from small wins. This number represents about 2% of the total prize money. Although this is a negative on the face of it, the good news is that the money invariably goes to charitable causes.

Delayed Reaction 

The phenomenon of unclaimed tickets remains a mystery. If you play then why don’t you check the numbers or even want the money? Why this happens is anyone’s guess. There may be a clue in the fact that ticket holders tend to take longer to come forward for larger prizes. This could be whilst they give themselves time to adjust before everything changes forever, or as they weigh up their spending options. Maybe some of these people ultimately decide that their lives are just fine as they are; after all there are plenty of stories of post-lottery win woes. 

Don’t be a missing winner

When playing the lottery, unless you can trust yourself to keep your ticket safe then playing online may be the route to go. There are many options available now which allows you the luxury of not having to deal with paper tickets.