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Remembering the biggest unclaimed lottery prizes

We often hear about the lottery jackpots that people have come forward to claim. How they won and what they are thinking about doing with their newfound wealth is frequently publicised.

But what about those world biggest unclaimed prizes that haven’t been linked to fortunate recipients? Does this happen a lot and what transpires if ultimately the winner doesn’t step up to claim their rightful winnings? 

In 2012, the EuroMillions jackpot to the tune of £64 million went unclaimed. The winning ticket was bought in the Hertfordshire area of the United Kingdom, but never amounted to anything. Whatever happened, it’s disappointing, as that’s a life-changing amount of money. There was some consolation, though. The £64 million was only actually half the grand prize of £127 million. There were two winners. The one didn’t come forward. The other certainly did. That winner was from Belgium. As for the unclaimed funds – they were given to the National Lottery Good Causes for charity work.

Over in the United States of America, way back in 2002, someone entered the MegaMillions draw and guessed enough numbers correctly for a $68 million prize. However, they never came forward to claim the win. What. A. Pity. But a year later, in 2003, Fritzner Bechette stated he won the previous year’s Christmas Eve MegaMillions draw and even filed a lawsuit in the Queens Supreme Court.

His case against the New York State Lottery ostensibly said he had tried to claim the $68 million prize on several occasions before it expired. A shambolic culmination to what could have been a fairytale ending at the very start.

South Africa, for the record, has seen its fair share of delayed lottery claims as well. Whether the winners eventually came forward for their winnings or not, Cape Town and Centurion have been the scene of some rather large untouched sums.

Cape Town and Centurion both had SA Lotto jackpots that were not claimed initially, though might have been down the line. They were worth a collective R51 million. But that’s almost only a third of the R141 million SA Powerball delayed claim in Cape Town. Yes, the Mother City, again, with its laidback vibe and tendency for tardiness.

As for the reasons why millions and millions of monies go unclaimed each year, well, there are a few themes that have emerged over time.

For one, people think that if they did not win the main jackpot, then they did not win any prize. That’s often simply not the case. Many draws around the country and the world have a prize for you if you guessed only some of the numbers correctly. Smaller sums are served across other categories. It’s here that people forget to check – or just don’t bother.

And then there is those who throw their tickets away by mistake. The piece of card gets left around the house and is mistaken for trash, or it’s stuck in a pants pocket which then goes into the laundry. There is almost no getting a washed and wet ticket back to its initial shape and form. Of course, entering the lottery online can negate the need for a physical ticket.

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