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when do powerball tickets expire

Watch Out, Your Powerball Winnings Can Expire

Less than an hour after the winning numbers in the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot were announced, a Chino Hills, CA convenience store claimed that it had sold a grand-prize-winning ticket. This means that someone, somewhere (most likely close to Chino Hills) is in possession of what I would unhesitatingly call one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets. So how long does the Powerball winner have to claim the jackpot?

UPDATE: This post was originally published in January 2016. As of Aug. 23, 2017, the new Powerball jackpot has hit $700 million (and if there are no winners, it’ll go to $1 billion). The Powerball will be drawn at 10:59 p.m. EST.

EARLIER: The state of California actually has its own ticket expiration policy. The state’s lottery site says that a Powerball jackpot can be claimed for up to one year from the date of the draw. Of course, unless the holder of the grand prize ticket accidentally flushes the super-expensive piece of paper down the toilet in an instance of unbelievable calamity, it likely won’t take that long before the winner comes forward to claim the largest prize in lotto history.

It turns out that California was home to a whole slew of smaller, less-lucrative golden ticket winners, as well. The state had 12 tickets that matched five out of the six drawn numbers, which means prizes for a lucky dozen people of $1 million or $50,000, depending on whether the red Powerball number was one of the five.

Winners of smaller Powerball prizes don’t have as long as jackpot winners to claim their cash before their tickets expire, though. Players have 180 days from Wednesday’s draw to claim all prizes other than the jackpot — yes, $4 is a win too!

If Americans know nothing else — like who may have won a prize in any of the other 49 states — they sure know now that the West Coast is the best coast for stepping into a 7-Eleven for a Slurpie and stepping out with a $1.5 billion ticket in your pocket. Well, it might not be the best coast at this very moment, since you could very well get trampled while trying to get through the door.

While there’s no information at this point on the jackpot ticket holder, California is not among the states that guarantee lotto winners the right to complete anonymity. This means you’ll probably be hearing some sort of name, as long as the winner doesn’t do the unthinkable and neglect to actually claim the prize. If they are clever enough to go for semi-anonymity and create a blind trust before stepping up, though, then the listing could bear a title, like California Dreamin’ LLC, instead of a name.

The winner definitely shouldn’t take too much time coming up with a badass trust name. It’s time to make like that golden ticket is a gallon of milk close to spoiling, because that baby does expire.

Less than an hour after the winning numbers in the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot were announced, a Chino Hills, CA convenience store claimed that it had sold a grand-prize-winning ticket. This means that someone, somewhere (most likely close to…

How Old Can a Lottery Ticket Be to Turn in to Win?

How Do Multiple Winners Claim a Lottery Ticket?

All good things must come to an end, so they say, and that includes winning lottery tickets. The state agencies that regulate lotteries and other forms of gambling will set expiration dates on when the ticket can be redeemed. Keep the ticket safe, and whatever you do, turn it in on time.

Lottery Winnings

If you win a smaller amount in a lottery drawing, you can claim your prize at the store or outlet where you bought the ticket. If the winnings are more than $600, in most cases you must redeem the ticket through the state lottery agency. Most convenience stores do not carry a large amount of cash, and any win over $600 needs to be documented on a Form W-2G for federal tax purposes. There’s also a deadline involved, set by state law.

Expiration Dates

Lottery tickets expire, and state law sets the time frame. This can range from 90 days to a year. Some lottery tickets will carry this information in the fine print on the back. Others don’t, but you can always access this information through the lottery agency website. In Minnesota, for example, the expiration date is one year from the date of the drawing. For scratch-off tickets, the deadline is one year from the official end of the game. Minnesota’s lottery website posts a list of the current lottery games and the number of unclaimed prizes in each.

The Fate of the Unclaimed

If you buy a lottery ticket, sign it immediately and keep it safe. If the ticket is lost or stolen without a signature, then anyone who finds it can turn it in. If a prize goes unclaimed, then state law sets down the next step. Either the lottery agency returns the money to the cash pool for another game, or turns the money over to the attorney general of the state. A multi-state lottery will return the money to each state lottery agency in proportion to their ticket sales.

Why Expire?

Strange as it may seem, a healthy number of winning lottery tickets do expire. According to a CNN report, $800 million in lottery money never found its legitimate owner in 2011, out of nearly $40 billion in total prize money. A common reason is that many lottery players don’t realize they’re holding “secondary” winners, which matched some, not all, of the numbers. Another reason may be that the news of a jackpot winner in another state discourages people from even checking their tickets for the smaller prize. Unclaimed jackpots, understandably, are rarer.

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All good things must come to an end, so they say, and that includes winning lottery tickets. The state agencies that regulate lotteries and other forms of gambling will set expiration dates on when the ticket can be redeemed. Keep the ticket safe, and whatever you do, turn it in on time. ]]>