WHEELING - Only by playing the lottery can the numbers 36, 44, 49, 52 and 57 equal 1 million.
But now, they add up to a colossal missed opportunity for someone who - perhaps mercifully - may never know he or she let a fortune fall by the wayside.
A $1 million winning Powerball ticket sold Feb. 12 in Wheeling has expired, according to West Virginia Lottery spokesman Randy Burnside. By state law, winners have 180 days from the drawing date to come forward and claim their prize. That deadline passed Aug. 11.
The Wheeling ticket is the second one worth $1 million or more to expire in West Virginia Lottery history. A ticket sold in Beckley in 2013 also went unclaimed, according to lottery officials. Burnside said the retailer that sold the ticket, the Firehouse Marathon gas station and convenience store on Wheeling Island, will still receive $10,000 for selling the ticket, representing 1 percent of the total prize amount.
"The retailer will still receive its selling bonus and the ($1 million) is now moved to an unclaimed prize fund which is returned to lottery players in the form of promotional prizes," Burnside said.
Lottery officials are hoping history won't repeat itself with another six-figure ticket sold in the state earlier this month.
"We currently have another $1 million Powerball ticket that has not been claimed either," Burnside said. "It was sold in early August in Poca and no one has come forward to date to claim it."
Even with the unclaimed prizes, West Virginia remains on a hot streak when it comes to lottery winners. There have been 11 Powerball and Mega Millions tickets worth $1 million or more sold in West Virginia this year, including the tickets purchased in Wheeling and Poca.
Two of those tickets belonged to Northern Panhandle residents. On March 18, Beverly Swartzmiller of Sistersville won $2 million by playing the Powerball's $1 multiplier option, and on May 27, H. John Lancaster of Weirton cashed in for $1 million.
The next Powerball drawing is tonight, with a jackpot of $60 million.