In 2005, an 83-year-old Blackstone, MA man claims he found a winning $1 million lottery ticket while routinely sifting through the throw-away tickets outside a White Hen Pantry, a local convenience store. A manager at the White Hen Pantry verified the ticket's winning status, and said that the man has gone to the store twice a day almost every day for the last few years, and he found a $1,000 winning ticket in the trash earlier in the year.
But his ticket has been disputed by a lawyer who says the ticket belongs to his client. Lottery officials did not comment, but unsigned lottery tickets are considered a "bearer instrument" (similar to bearer bonds) and can be claimed by anyone physically holding onto it.
The California Lottery commission was aware that there was a million dollar Powerball ticket about to expire, so they made an effort to find the person who held it. They looked at the timestamp of the ticket and matched it to the video surveillance tape at the Rosemead, California store where the ticket was purchased. It showed a young man making the ticket purchase. Lottery officials then released the video to the media to prompt the ticket buyer to come forward and claim the prize before the 6-month deadline passed.
A Southern California man went to his local California Lottery office to claim his prize. However, when asked for the winning ticket, he said that he had lost the ticket. The ticket matched five out of six numbers in the drawing and won a secondary prize, but not the jackpot. A California Lottery spokesman said that they believe the man who came forward was the guy in the surveillance footage. But the Powerball rules state that a physical ticket is needed to claim any winnings, so the prize could not be paid out.
Since the prize was not claimed by the deadline, the money went to the California public schools. In the 30 years since the California Lottery began, California public schools have received more than $800 million dollars in unclaimed lottery winnings. This is the second time a California lottery ticket buyer has lost out on a prize since officials began releasing video images of winning ticket purchasers in 2012 in an attempt to find them.
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