Lottery officials see millions of dollars in unclaimed Kentucky - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Lottery officials see millions of dollars in unclaimed Kentucky Lottery prizes

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Lottery Corporation says it sees anywhere from $8 million to $10 million in unclaimed prizes every year.

The organization's Senior Vice President of Communications, Chip Polston, says the number sounds like a lot, but it is only about 1.6 percent of the $830 million awarded in prizes last year.

"The overwhelming majority of those tickets are one, two, three dollars," Polston said. 

Polston says about 13 years ago, there was an unclaimed prize of more than $1 million that sold near Northern Kentucky. 

"The scenario there was it was somebody traveling that happened to stop off at the airport probably gassed up their rental car on the way to the airport," Polston said. "Got a ticket, threw it in their bag, threw it in their car, forgot they had it, got on a plane and flew off and missed out on their prize."

Polston said there are typically two reasons people have unclaimed prizes. Many times, he said, people find out they won a small amount and think about cashing it, but eventually forget.

The other reason is people traveling, like the case with the Northern Kentucky ticket.

The easiest way to know if you have a winner is to simply take it somewhere you can check the ticket, like the Kentucky Lottery Office on West Main Street or gas stations that sell tickets.

Rosalind Smith said she plays the lottery every single day, and she bought several tickets for last week's big Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots. Although she did not win, she says she always checks her tickets because you can never be too sure.

Each player has 180 days from the day of the drawing to claim his or her prize. All unclaimed prizes go into a reserve fund for the KEES Scholarship.

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