Powerball Winnings Gone: What Happens To Unclaimed Lottery Tickets

Zinger Key Points
  • Powerball is one of the most popular lottery drawings in the U.S.
  • While its rare, some winnings go unclaimed as the result of lost tickets or winners not coming forward in time.

Powerball is one of the most popular lottery games that can offer hundreds of millions of dollars, or in some cases billions, in potential winnings.

Along with decisions such as picking a lump sum or annuity if they win and how to choose their numbers, lottery ticket players also have to make sure they secure their ticket and claim their winnings in proper time.

The next Powerball drawing is Saturday (June 22) with a $72 million jackpot.

Unclaimed Lottery Winnings: Powerball lottery players may be surprised to learn that they have a deadline to claim their prize.

In most states, the deadline to claim a prize is 180 days. Some states have deadlines of 90 days and others give winners up to one year to claim their prize. The expiration date of tickets is listed on the back of the Powerball tickets in most cases.

While it's hard to imagine someone winning hundreds of millions of dollars not claiming their prize, this could happen for various reasons. The most likely example is the ticket becoming lost.

According to the Powerball website, unclaimed prizes are kept by the lottery jurisdiction.

Unclaimed grand prize winnings are more complicated, with the money returned to all jurisdictions in proportion to their sales. Jurisdictions distribute the money based on their own laws to other lottery games or their general fund.

Outside of Powerball, some state lotteries have different ways of handling unclaimed tickets. A $44 million unclaimed Quick Pick ticket in Florida saw the state's lottery put 80% of the funds in the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund with the remainder put into the state's prize pool for future lottery prizes.

Related Link: Mark Cuban Says Powerball Player Who Won $1.08B Jackpot Should Do This Next: ‘Don’t Want To Blow It All In One Spot’

Why It's Important: The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million. The overall odds to win a prize are 1 in 24.9 tickets.

Powerball tickets cost $2 each and are available in more than 40 U.S. states. Players choose to pick their own numbers or receive a random selection. Five numbers between 1 and 69 are selected along with a Powerball number 1 to 26. To win the Powerball, a player has to match all six balls in the drawing.

Powerball jackpot winners can take a lump sum cash payment or choose to be paid out the full amount over 29 years with 30 payments. One payment is made upfront and additional payments each year go up by 5% to fight inflation.

The cash payout is lower than the full payout over 29 years.

Winners have to pay federal taxes on their winnings with the IRS taking out 24% immediately on all payouts over $5,000. Winners are also responsible for paying state taxes depending on where they reside.

Powerball and Mega Millions remain two of the largest lotteries and large jackpots often attract large buying of tickets and can see the lotteries trend on social media and in Google searches.

Read Next: The $900 Million Powerball Is A Mirage: How Taxes Could Shrink Your Dream Jackpot

Photo: Shutterstock

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