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Check your lottery tickets. Nearly $50M goes unclaimed on average

You may already be a millionaire and not even know it.

Thousands of people dream to hit the jackpot to become the next millionaire. However, California Lottery officials revealed that millions of dollars continue to go unclaimed each year.

“In the last 5 to 10 years it’s averaged $40 and 50 million a year,” said Carolyn Becker, the spokesperson of the California Lottery.

Becker said the unclaimed winnings include all Scratchers games and the draw games, which include Powerball, Mega Millions and Super Lotto Plus.

So, what’s happening?

“My strong hypotheses is that when a ticket goes unclaimed, it’s because that person doesn’t even realize they’ve won, or they lost a ticket and can’t check it,” said Becker.

The California Lottery has more than 50 options of the Scratchers tickets and three jackpot games. Powerball and Mega Millions are multistate games, and Super Lotto Plus is only available in California.

California Lottery recently announced that players who win between $600 to $1,000 can now claim their money right away at one of their nine district offices in the state, once their claim form is verified.

Winners of more than $1,000 must fill out a form and either mail or drop it off at their offices.

There are three California Lottery offices in Southern California.

Players must also remember that all claims have a deadline. For instance, the jackpot winning for the multi-state games like Powerball and Mega Millions have up to year to come forward, but California’s only millionaire game is different.

“SuperLotto Plus that’s only played in California is about six months. It’s 180 days from the day of the draw,” said Becker.

Secondary prizes which are considered tickets matching five numbers also have a six-month deadline.

How to check your ticket:

The California Lottery has 23,000 retail outlets that have a scanner where players can check their tickets.

The winning’s numbers are available on the California Lottery website. There’s also the California Lottery mobile app where you can scan your ticket instantly.

According to the California’s Lottery Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR), lottery sales broke all-time sales and contributions records with more than $8.85 billion in the fiscal year 2021-2022, which included the transfer of more than $1 billion to California public schools. This money encompasses the sale of tickets and unclaimed money.

In the 37-year inception of the Lottery, the state’s public schools have received more than $41.5 billion, according to PAFR.

“The feeling is always bittersweet [for unclaimed tickets] because all the unclaimed prize money goes to public schools In California,” said Becker.

Anyone interested to see how much Lottery money went to public education in each county can click here

Becker said she has talked to a few million dollar winners who didn’t realize until weeks or months later that they had won.

What every California Lottery player should do with their ticket

1. Sign the back of the ticket right away and establish ownership.

2. Keep the ticket safe before or after the draw.

3. People who don’t watch the draw should check the ticket as soon as possible.

4. Don’t stash it in the glove box and forget about it. Keep it somewhere you’ll remember when the draw happens.

California Lottery District offices in Southern California


9710 Topanga Canyon Blvd.

Chatsworth, CA 91311


Rancho Cucamonga

11138 Elm Ave.

Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730


Santa Fe Springs

9807 Bell Ranch Drive

Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670


For more information, click here or call 1-800-LOTTERY

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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