MINNEAPOLIS — It’s enough money that it has warranted its own game show. Why, then, is there a Minnesotan out there who hasn’t claimed a million dollar winner in the Minnesota Millionaire Raffle?
According to the Minnesota State Lottery, a jackpot winner for the raffle drawn annually on New Year’s Day has yet to be claimed. In other words, a six-digit number could net someone a seven-digit payday — but the benefactor has yet to come forward.
The Minnesota State Lottery oversees several statewide drawings and operations of some multistate lotteries, including Powerball, offering a record estimated jackpot of $1.5 billion Wednesday night. (Those winning Powerball numbers were drawn Wednesday night: 8, 27, 34, 4, 19 and the Powerball of 10.)
It’s not an altogether uncommon practice for big winners of lotto games to not come forward right away, said state lottery spokeswoman Debbie Hoffman, including for the Millionaire Raffle.
“We’ve had a $1 million winner who didn’t come forward until March or April,” she said.
Winners have a calendar year to come forward to claim their prize, Hoffman said, so the person who bought the winning ticket at a SuperAmerica gas station in northeast Minneapolis has until Jan. 3, 2017 to cash in.
Hoffman said there are many reasons why someone wouldn’t claim the winnings straight away, from notifying family to seeking legal and financial help managing the windfall.
“The player may not even know they have a winner,” she said.
Players can check if their lotto tickets are winners on the Minnesota State Lottery website, or they can take the tickets to any lottery ticket retailer. Additionally, the state lottery issues news releases when a big winner — $30,000 or more — is sold, and messages are printed atop new lottery tickets to inform players a big prize has gone unclaimed.
If the million-dollar winner does not come forward, Hoffman says that money would join the rest of unclaimed lottery prizes in being added to the state’s general fund, which funds numerous legislative projects.
It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the state’s two-year, $40 billion budget, but over the past two fiscal years, more than $21 million dollars have gone unclaimed in Minnesota — including four “big prize” winners of $30,000 or more.
The majority of unclaimed tickets are small lotto and scratch-off winners, a dollar or two apiece.
“Some people see they won a dollar or two and think it’s not worth the hassle to go pick it up,” Hoffman said.
Lottery winners of less than $600 can be claimed at any lottery retailer (provided the cash is available), by mail or at a regional lottery office. Winners of $600 or more must complete a prize claim form available at retailers and online, while big winners of $30,000 or more must claim the prize in person at the Minnesota State Lottery office in Roseville.