Even $1 Million Lottery Tickets Go Unclaimed

WHEELING – The lucky owner of a $1 million Powerball ticket sold Wednesday in Wheeling has yet to come forward, according to Lottery officials, but he or she has plenty of time to do so – another 178 days, to be exact.

Per contest rules, winners have 180 days to claim their prize. The 180th day following Wednesday’s drawing would be Aug. 11.

As unfathomable as it may seem, someone who bought a $1 million Powerball ticket in Beckley last year actually let the money slip through their fingers by letting the 180-day period expire.

“It was the first time we’ve ever had one that large go unclaimed,” lottery spokesman Randy Burnside said.

Burnside said it’s not uncommon for winners to wait a while before claiming their prize, letting the initial euphoria wear off in order to make clear-headed choices about what to do with their windfall. But it’s important to keep the all-important ticket in a safe place and sign it

“Whoever shows up with it, it’s theirs – so the best thing you can do is sign the back of it,” he said.

Prizes of $600 or less can be claimed at any lottery retailer in the state, regardless of whether the ticket was purchased there. Larger claims can be processed at the lottery’s regional office in Weirton, but any prize greater than $250,000 must be claimed in person at headquarters in Charleston. Burnside asks the person holding the winning ticket to call lottery headquarters at 1-800-982-2274 ahead of time.

Winners must present photo identification and their Social Security card. Those claiming a prize of $600 or more must be screened for delinquent tax or child support obligations before receiving their money, Burnside said.

Burnside said the store that sold the winning ticket – the Firehouse Marathon and Drive-Thru on Zane Street on Wheeling Island – will receive a bonus of $10,000. Stores that sell winning tickets receive 1 percent of the overall prize, up to a maximum of $100,000.