You can call it the million-dollar mistake, the absent-minded millionaire, or the Kentucky Klutz, but whatever you choose to call it, it’s just plain sad.
The Kentucky Lottery announced this week that a $1 million winning Powerball ticket went unclaimed, bringing an end to a saga that started last July.
The lottery will contribute the ticket’s winnings to the state’s unclaimed prize fund, which provides money for a state scholarship program.
How a $1 million Powerball ticket went unclaimed in Kentucky
On July 19, someone walked into a Pilot Travel Center in Pendleton County and bought a Powerball ticket. It ended up being what likely was the best and worst day of the customer’s life.
Later that day, the Powerball drawing took place, revealing the following six numbers: 7-10-11-13-24-24. The Pendleton ticketholder matched the first five numbers, earning them a $1 million jackpot.
But to get that money, they needed to take that ticket to the Kentucky Lottery’s headquarters in Louisville within 180 days of the drawing date. That deadline put the winner’s last day to submit the ticket at Monday, Jan. 15.
However, because Jan. 15 was a federal holiday (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), the deadline was moved up to the Friday before the holiday: Jan. 12. That day came and went without a winner stepping forward.
According to a news post by WDRB, Kentucky Lottery President Mary Harville said in a release sent earlier this week:
“Unfortunately, the ticket was never claimed, but there is a silver lining at the end of the day — we will be returning $1 million to education to further our mission to fund college scholarships and grants for Kentucky students and their families.”
Where does the money go?
Kentucky’s state regulations require the lottery to send the unclaimed money to a fund that provides money for the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) program.
The program provides scholarships to students who attend a Kentucky high school or home school, get a GED, and want to attend a Kentucky college or technical school, or a school outside of Kentucky that offers a program not available in Kentucky.
High school and homeschool students have to earn a 2.5 GPA to be eligible for the scholarship. The higher a student’s GPA, the more scholarship money they can receive.
Since 1999, the Kentucky Lottery has contributed more than $4.8 billion to grant and scholarship programs. That money has helped nearly one million Kentucky college students.
How often do lottery jackpots go unclaimed?
While the Kentucky Lottery didn’t provide data in any of its press releases about the unclaimed KY Powerball prize, Harville said “it’s rare” that someone wouldn’t cash in a $1 million jackpot.
While there is no centralized database to track unclaimed lottery prizes, there are plenty of stories around the country about people failing to cash in their jackpot.
For example, late last year, a $44 million Florida Lottery ticket went unclaimed, per a report from Florida Today. The winner bought their ticket at a gas station in Kissimmee, just 20 miles from Walt Disney World. Despite the lottery’s efforts to track down the winner, the ticket went unclaimed.
In the 35-year history of the Florida Lottery, 30 jackpots have gone unclaimed, the biggest of which was $66 million, Florida Today noted.