Lottery Prizes That Went Unclaimed: The Top 5 List

Christian Holmes

Updated on:

Unclaimed Lottery Tickets With Cash on Desk

The journey Lottery Geeks is about to begin may offend some jealous souls and break others’ hearts. The one thing Lottery Geeks editorial staff encourages gift-getters to hold onto their lottery tickets this holiday season. Even a ticket that says loser could turn out to be a winner. Scanning systems are known to fail from time to time. Double-check that ticket in another store, or some readers could end up on this unfortunate list: The top 5 biggest unclaimed lottery jackpots.

Yes, that’s right, Lottery Geeks has done the research and wants to share the results. After talking to a few historians and sleuthing the interweb for hours, these are the biggest unclaimed lottery prizes ever.

Some results may shock readers. Others may not.

First, let’s start with an honorable mention:

Lotto Max $70 million CAD ($52 million USD), summer 2023.

As discussed in a previous Lottery Geeks article, many people tried to claim the ticket. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) was bombarded with thousands of people who said they lost the ticket, their dog ate it, their uncle was holding it ransom, etc. 

After several weeks of investigation, OLG determined all the claims were hogwash and let the prize go unclaimed — a shock to many Canadians. Most in Ontario have never seen that much money being left on the table.

5. Super Lotto Plus $63 million, California, summer/fall of 2015

The way things usually go down in the Golden State is prize winners get six months to claim their winnings. If they don’t step up to the plate in that time, the state declares the prize unclaimed, and the money gets put into the education system, among other initiatives.

Before the deadline could pass, a person named Brandy Miller supposedly claimed the prize. California Lottery was unwilling to accept his ticket as a winner. Why? The ticket itself was in rough physical shape. There were no records he tried to make a claim. Upon research by Lottery Geeks, rough-looking tickets used to claim prizes have, in the past, been deemed fraudulent. At the time, a savvy mind might’ve thought Miller was trying to pull a PR stunt to scoop up the gold. 

Frustrated with the decision, Miller took the California Lottery to court. During the lawsuit’s duration, he learned what the phrase “the devil is in the details” truly meant.

The ticket Miller claimed to have had was supposed to have been purchased at a 7-Eleven in the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth. A forensic examination performed by lottery officials found the paper stock used on the ticket was bought from a different 7-Eleven on a different date. The judge agreed with the findings and tossed out Miller’s claim, ripping away his chance at victory, much like a Steph Curry game-clinching shot against one of the best teams in basketball. 

via GIPHY

4. Mega Millions $68 million, New York, 2002-2003

On Christmas Eve of 2002, many Americans hoped it would be their holiday to remember. To the disappointment of the masses, the odds wouldn’t be in their favor. 

The $68 million jackpot would go unclaimed for almost a year until Brooklyn resident Dr. Fritzner Bechette filed a lawsuit against the New York Lottery, claiming that the prize was his. Bachette said in the lawsuit filings that he lost the ticket. He had been trying to claim the ticket for some time. The problem was New York Lottery officials would only take him seriously if there were a ticket the good doctor could show for proof of his claim.

via GIPHY

Unfortunately, Bachette’s ticket description didn’t match what it should’ve looked like. With a suspicious claim like Bachette’s, the court could do nothing more than throw out the case altogether — leaving the prize unwon.

To this day, this is the biggest Mega Millions jackpot left unclaimed. 

3. Powerball $77.1 million, Georgia, 2011

When people hear the name Powerball, they automatically start thinking about the big jackpots it’s known for. Some dream of winning the darn thing, and others listen to the stories of those who’ve had such luck. 

In 2011, $77.1 million would go quietly unclaimed. There were no legal disputes and no credible claims to the price. Like the subject of a true crime story, the winning ticket was lost to the sands of time. According to Powerball officials, the ticket was sold in Tallapoosa, Georgia.

There were efforts made by lottery officials to find the winner, but every search turned up empty.

2. EuroMillions £63.8m ($101 million USD), 2012, United Kingdom  

North American readers might be wondering: What’s EuroMillions?

EuroMillions is like a lottery comparable to the Powerball. EuroMillions is drawn in nine different European countries.

In June of 2012, two people won the prize of a lifetime, scoring a whopping $101 million USD each. 

The first winner was from Belgium, and the second was from The United Kingdom. The Belgian was quick to claim their prize. The bloke from the UK, not so much.

The 180-day deadline to claim the prize came with no one cashing their money in the bank briefcase. However, officials did make a conservative effort to find the winner.

If this story had a positive outcome, the UK National Lottery’s Good Causes fund got the money. 

1. Mega Big 1.2 billion yen ($166 million USD), Japan, 2021/2022

The biggest unclaimed jackpot in the world’s history comes from Japan.

In February of 2021, one lucky person struck gold. At least, that’s what many Japanese onlookers thought the morning after the draw. The thing is, though, no one came forward to claim the ticket.

The rules put forth by the Japan Sport Council, which runs the lottery, state prize winners must claim their prize within 12 months of the draw. In Japan, it’s highly uncommon for a lottery winner to wait any longer than 48-72 hours to claim their prize.

With the yen amount so high, some officials thought the winner might be trying to get their affairs in order before claiming the prize. After months of no one showing up to claim the jackpot, Japanese officials started to take note. Once 2022 came, officials tried everything they could to find the winner, but their efforts were useless. No winner was found.