Kentucky Lottery has millions in unclaimed winnings

The Kentucky Lottery was left holding 13.6 million dollars in unclaimed prizes last year and are currently searching for three high dollar winners to step forward, including a $250,000 ticket holder.

On average the state lottery has between $8 to $10 million dollars that aren’t awarded, but saw a significant jump in unclaimed winnings this past year due to a popular scratch-off game. The majority of the prizes that go unclaimed are those small tickets that are worth up to $5, however, officials say they’ve seen more lucrative winnings left behind over the years.

“We’ve had tickets that were worth $1 million before that have gone unclaimed,” says Chip Polston, a spokesman for the Kentucky Lottery. “What we find with those big tickets is that they’re purchased in areas centered along interstate highways where a lot of folks are passing through. The theory is a lot of times you had a person pick up a ticket, throw it in the backseat and just plain forgot about it.”

In 2009, lottery officials in Louisville failed to find the winner of a $200,000 Powerball from a ticket that was sold in northern Kentucky. All winning tickets must be claimed 180 days from the drawing, says Polston. The largest unclaimed prize in Kentucky Lottery history was a $1.2 million ticket sold three decades ago in Bowling Green.

There are currently  three outstanding high dollar winners set to expire in 2011.

From the Kentucky Lottery:

$250,000 Mega Millions ticket
Sold at: Ameristop Food Mart at 512 West Pike St. in Covington on Dec. 12, 2010
Expires on: 6/19/11

$52,000 Win For Life ticket
Sold at: Speedway #9596 on 246 Southland Dr. in Lexington on Jan. 22, 2011
Expires on: 7/21/11

$52,000 Win For Life ticket
Sold at: Marrowbone Community Market at 109 Jefferson St. in Taylorsville on Aug. 28, 2010
Expires on: 2/24/11

By law, if a prize is not claimed it goes into a reserve fund set up to cover any potential shortfalls to the KEES scholarship program. In the past, the lottery proceeds have funded college grants, scholarships sand literacy programs. Since its inception in 1989, the Kentucky Lottery has sent more than $3.2 billion to the Commonwealth.

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