A $61 million prize is still waiting to be claimed by someone who bought a lottery ticket in Bellevue. The Mega Millions winner – announced Friday – is expected to come out of the woodwork eventually. But millions of dollars goes unclaimed each year in Tennessee.
They’re often small prizes – a few dollars. But a handful of million-dollar tickets have expired after no one came forward within the 180-day window allowed by state law.
The no-shows are often inexperienced and have non-jackpot tickets that still pay out, says Tennessee Lottery CEO Rebecca Hargrove.
“You have occasional players who will say I’m never going to play until the jackpot is over $300 million,” she says. “So when it’s over $300 million, they’ll buy a ticket, see that the jackpot wasn’t won in Tennessee, and then never even look.”
Nationally, more than $800 million in prize money goes unclaimed each year, according to industry officials. In Tennessee, the average is nearly $14 million annually, and the funds are distributed among afterschool programs.