Millions in lotto winnings went unclaimed in Florida in 2012

12:29 AM, Dec 18, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - More than half a billion dollars is at play in the Mega Millions lottery game tonight.

Aspiring millionaires are packing convenience stores across the nation in hopes that they will win the estimated $636 million jackpot.

Between three and five o'clock, it's estimated that 17,000 tickets were sold every minute.

"I just am doing it before if I win the money and can take care of my family," said Tina Covington of Carrollwood.

The local resident is just the one of many last-minute money hunters to the Carrollwood Market.

It is the same store where a $16 million Powerball ticket was purchased back in May.

It went unclaimed and the ticket expired last November.

At least one customer is hoping the luck of purchasing from this store will rub off on him.

"Because someone didn't claim that prize and maybe I can be the one, the next one, to win this lottery," said Bill Gerber.

Nationwide, $800 million in lottery prizes went unclaimed.

"It was about a $55 million in the State of Florida of prizes that went unclaimed (in 2012)," said Mike Purcell with the Florida Lottery.

The problem: players don't bother to check their ticket for smaller one dollar or five dollar winnings.

"On Mega Millions, you could win $5 million dollars, so don't throw your ticket out just because you didn't win the $636 million. Five million is not too bad," Purcell said.

Lottery tickets can expire from 30 to 180 days after the winning numbers are announced.

Of the $55 million that went unclaimed in Florida last year, $44 million was given to education, while the rest went back into the Florida lottery system.

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