Hot Lotto Prize Unclaimed for 364 Days

Robert Maday

Hot Lotto Prize Unclaimed for 364 Days

By Robert Maday. CREATED Dec 28, 2011

 

Des Moines, IA- Nearly a year after winning numbers were drawn, a multimillion dollar Hot Lotto jackpot has not been claimed.

The Iowa Lottery is hoping that its repeated reminders over the past year will cause a lucky someone -- or group of someones - to double-check their tickets and come forward in time to claim the jackpot that remains unclaimed nearly a year after  a ticket purchased in Des Moines had the winning numbers.

The winning ticket will expire at 4 p.m. Thursday if it isn't claimed by then.

With each passing day, the Iowa Lottery receives more and more inquiries from those who wonder if they may have made the jackpot-winning purchase.

But so far, no one has presented the winning ticket, and lottery officials emphasize that is a requirement for claiming the prize.

"It is sad to see this huge prize continue to sit there without being claimed. Someone legitimately won this money and we want them to take it home," Lottery CEO Terry Rich said Wednesday. "But you must present the winning ticket to the lottery in order to claim the prize."

The passage of time also reveals the impact that a down economy can have, even on lottery jackpots.

Although the majority of recent winners have chosen the cash option, jackpot winners can choose to receive their winnings as annuitized payments over time or a lump-sum payment.

At the time the big prize was won back on Dec. 29, 2010, the estimated annuitized jackpot amount was $16.5 million.

That annuitized estimate is based upon the cash on hand from the sale of tickets along with the amount in interest that would be generated over time after the lottery invested the money.

While the cash value of the jackpot remains unchanged at $10.75 million, today's low interest rates mean the annuitized jackpot amount has fallen to an estimated $14.4 million.

"This has been an unusual story all the way around," Rich said. "But we're hoping that our reminders will cause someone to double-check their ticket and realize they're the big winner before time runs out."

Rich said that the lottery does not release a ticket's date or time of sale for security reasons."Some information is kept as our way to double-check that the winner is legitimate," he said.

But the lottery has provided some key information that might jar a winner's memory. The Hot Lotto jackpot-winning ticket was purchased at Quik Trip, 4801 N.E. 14th St. in Des Moines.

That's located at the southeast corner of Interstate 80/Interstate 35, and Highway 69.

The lucky ticket matched all six numbers selected in the Hot Lotto drawing on Dec. 29, 2010, to win the grand prize.

The winning numbers that night were 3-12-16-26-33, and the Hot Ball was 11.

Hot Lotto tickets in Iowa expire a year from the date of the drawing in which a prize is won, so the jackpot prize will expire at 4 p.m. on Thursday if it isn't claimed by then.

(The lottery's Validations Office closes at 4 p.m. and the equipment needed to process winning tickets is shut down at that time.)

The lottery has installed a countdown clock at its headquarters office in Des Moines and programmed a countdown clock that people can track on its website at www.ialottery.com.

And, besides fielding inquiries that have come in via email, telephone and in-person visits from curious members of the public, Iowa Lottery security investigators have worked to possibly identify the jackpot winner by tracking similar ticket purchase patterns.

So far, none of the people the lottery has contacted has turned out to be the big winner. If the Hot Lotto prize expires without being claimed, the money from the jackpot will go back to the 15 lotteries that offer Hot Lotto in proportion to the percentage of sales that came from each state.

How the money would be used depends upon the specific laws and rules in each state.

In Iowa, the money from unclaimed prizes goes into the lottery's prize pools for future games.

"Iowa would get back about $1.3 million if this prize were to go unclaimed," Rich said. "We've talked about having a special promotion in the spring to give the money away, with a theme of 'everyone deserves a second chance.' But right now, we're concentrating on trying to find this big winner or group of winners."

The Hot Lotto game began in April 2002, offering Powerball-style play but with easier odds. Hot Lotto players choose five numbers from a pool of 39 and another number, called the Hot Ball, from a pool of 19.

Iowa Lottery players have won eight jackpots in the game so far. The Hot Lotto jackpot starts at $1 million and grows until someone wins it. Tickets in the game cost $1. Hot Lotto drawings are held at about 9:40 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, just before the Powerball drawings.

Hot Lotto tickets are sold in Iowa, 13 other states, and the District of Columbia.