Pennsylvania’s unclaimed $17 million lottery prizes

State data shows that Pennsylvanians often do not claim the millions of dollars in prize money that have been offered in recent high jackpots.

On average, from 2012 to 2021, the Department of Revenue reported that $17.8 million in prizes went unclaimed each year, with $8.2 million left uncollected in the Commonwealth in 2022, a relatively light year.

The Department of Revenue can track draw games, like Powerball, Mega Millions and Cash4Life, to identify when and where those tickets are purchased. However, it is up to the ticket holders to claim any prizes won from tickets.

“Players should check every ticket, every time, using self-service scanners found at retailers or with the Ticket Checker on the Lottery’s Official App,” Pennsylvania Lottery Press Secretary Ewa Swope said. “Sign tickets immediately for proof of ownership.”

Swope stated that the state conducts its own efforts to inform people of unclaimed funds, including releasing press releases daily that specify prizes of worth $100,000 or more.

“We have heard from many players who have checked their winning tickets after seeing a story on their local television station or reading about it online, so this is one way that we can help players avoid missing out on a prize,” she said.

The lottery sends out press releases when major tickets near their expiration date, which generally happens one year after the purchase date, the end of the game, or after the drawing date.

In 2020-21, the lottery generated sales of a record $5.3 billion, with more than $1.3 billion supporting programs for senior citizens. Two major prizes, worth $1 million and $2 million, have yet to be claimed in Pennsylvania.

Even if the winnings are collected, federal and state taxes, among others, will take away a portion of the prize money.

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