When time expired not long ago on a $1 million winning lottery ticket bought in Hennepin County, a Minnesota legislator felt badly for the winner-who-never-was and did something to reduce the odds that big prizes will go unclaimed in the future.
The Minnesota Lottery on Wednesday started revealing detailed information about where tickets worth big payouts were sold. The thinking is that lottery players’ memories will be jogged and they’ll scrounge around and check those forgotten tickets.
Previously, the lottery only disclosed the county where those tickets were purchased. The change does not include scratch-off tickets.
In March, a $1 million Powerball prize went unclaimed in time for the payout to be made. Prize money that isn’t picked up for a year after a drawing — millions of dollars go unclaimed every year — is transferred to the state’s general fund.
“It broke my heart to see a player forfeit a $1 million lottery prize,” said Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights. “That’s why I proposed legislation to make this change. Other states are already doing this, and I strongly support the … change.”
The largest unclaimed lottery prize ever in Minnesota was a Gopher 5 jackpot worth $1.4 million. The prize expired on Jan. 17, 2007.
“By releasing the name and address of the store, we hope that more players will double check their tickets and collect their prize money,” said lottery executive director Ed Van Petten. “It will also help our retail partners because many players consider stores that sell winning tickets to be ‘lucky stores.’ Selling winning tickets helps bring customers through their doors.”
Keeping the ticket-selling location limited to disclosing the county had been viewed as a safeguard against fraud, should a ticket holder need to be questioned about precisely where the purchase was made, said Minnesota Lottery legislative liaison Chris Kwapick.
Kwapick said lottery officials felt comfortable giving up that one fraud-prevention tool in exchange for bringing good publicity to the seller and “connecting as many players as possible to the money they are owed.”
As of now, there are six hefty payouts waiting to be claimed in Minnesota:
• $100,000, Millionaire Raffle, Jan. 1 drawing, Lake Elmo Oil, 11127 Stillwater Blvd. N., Lake Elmo.
• $100,000, Millionaire Raffle, Jan. 1 drawing, Stop-N-Go, 308 5th St. N., Breckenridge.
• $27,000, Northstar Cash, May 27 drawing, Orton’s Point Tesoro, 504 Rhinehart Drive SE., East Grand Forks.
• $26,000, Northstar Cash, May 29 drawing, Eveleth Short Stop, 410 Grant Av., Eveleth.
• $66,900, Northstar Cash, June 26 drawing, SuperAmerica, 5101 34th Av. S., Minneapolis.
• $100,000, All or Nothing, June 28 evening drawing: Holiday, 240 W. Hwy. 5, Waconia.