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The Largest Unclaimed Lottery Jackpots Are Facepalm-Inducing Screw-ups

By Tanveer Ali | August 14, 2017 5:50am | Updated on August 14, 2017 2:18pm
 More than $17 million in jackpots have gone unclaimed since 2004.
More than $17 million in jackpots have gone unclaimed since 2004.
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THE LOOP — Someone won $350,000 in the Illinois Lottery a year ago Wednesday — and likely doesn't even know it. 

And when the clock strikes 5 p.m. Wednesday, the evening Lucky Day Lotto ticket bought at a convenience store in the Thompson Center will be worthless.

Illinois Lottery jackpots expire after a year — and if this one goes unclaimed, it would be the largest on record in the city. Agency records go back to 2004.

Statewide, jackpot winners have left $17.7 million on the table. That's the cumulative total of 26 unclaimed jackpots, including a whopping $14 million ticket that died on the vine after being sold in southwest suburban Frankfort.

In Chicago, eight Lotto and Lucky Day Lotto jackpots expired, with a total of $1,127,500 going unclaimed, according to state records.

The Illinois Lottery provided all available data it had on unclaimed and expired jackpot prizes in games including PowerBall, Mega Millions, Lucky Day Lotto and regular Lotto. Based on the state's records, there were no unclaimed expired PowerBall and Mega Millions jackpots in the state.

(The big Thompson Center winning ticket, by the way, matched all five numbers — 7, 11, 24, 25, 26 — in the Aug. 16, 2016, evening Lucky Day Lotto drawing. It was sold at the A&B Convenience store in the atrium of the state building.)

If it goes unclaimed, it's a boon to the state.

That's because if a prize goes unclaimed after a year, that money goes to the state's school and capital projects fund, Illinois Lottery spokesman Mike Lang said.

Unless the Thompson Center tickets overtakes it, the most valuable expired Chicago jackpot ticket was bought at Logan Square's Crown Liquors, 2821 N. Milwaukee Ave., for the May 23, 2008, drawing of Little Lotto (now known as Lucky Day Lotto). The numbers 2, 8, 16, 20 and 36 would've made that person $290,000 richer. Not to be.

 The winner of a $350,000 Illinois Lottery ticket sold at this Thompson Center convenience store has less than a week to claim the jackpot.
The winner of a $350,000 Illinois Lottery ticket sold at this Thompson Center convenience store has less than a week to claim the jackpot.
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DNAinfo/Tanveer Ali

The second-highest jackpot ticket bought in Chicago that no one claimed came from Edgewater's Breakers Pantry, 5343 N. Sheridan Road. The Oct. 12, 2011, ticket with the numbers 20, 25, 30, 32 and 33 was once worth $275,000.

Also in Edgewater, a winning ticket sold for the Feb. 24, 2013, Lucky Day Lotto game was sold at The Pantry, 1105 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Though that ticket would've only netted $112,500 because that game had two winners, it ranks as the third highest jackpot never claimed in Chicago.

Statewide, the highest jackpot never claimed was a ticket sold at a southwest suburban Gas City in Frankfort. The Jan. 31, 2004, Lotto ticket would've been worth $14 million.

There is still time for some lucky winners, however. The Illinois Lottery keeps a running list of unclaimed lottery tickets worth more than $100,000 that can still be claimed.

The winner of the $393 million Mega Millions ticket sold in Palos Heights last week has until Aug. 11, 2018, to claim it.

Also still unclaimed are another 10 tickets including the $350,000 ticket sold in the Thompson Center, an $800,000 ticket sold at a 7-Eleven in Belmont Cragin (5959 W. Belmont Ave.) in February and a $7.25 million ticket sold in suburban Wheaton last month. Put together, the value of 12 of those 13 outstanding tickets — excluding the Mega Millions winner — was $12.85 million.

Here's a map of winning, but expired, tickets that no one claimed statewide since 2004. All the information comes from a Freedom of Information Act request sent to the Illinois Lottery.