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What Happens to Unclaimed Lottery Tickets?

Have you ever wondered what happens to unclaimed lottery tickets since no one gets the prize? You might have been one of those, or at least be curious about what is done to the money that sometimes might equal millions of dollars or euros. The answer might surprise you, while it might sound logical and perhaps even obvious to some people.

When Is a Prize Considered to Be Unclaimed?

An unclaimed lottery ticket equals an unclaimed prize that might be as minimal as the same amount paid for the ticket or as big as millionaire jackpots. All it takes is someone that forgets about the deadline to claim the lottery prizes with the legit ticket or simply loses it. Below is an example of unclaimed Euromillions lottery tickets:

Unclaimed Lottery Tickets


Therefore, whenever a prize is not claimed with the actual ticket that purchased the sequence that matched it within the given deadline, that is an unclaimed prize. That deadline varies a lot, and, while some states or countries might give you 30 days, others allow one year or more.

Can I Retrieve Any Prizes After the Deadline?

There is absolutely no chance of getting the prize if you let the maximum claim date pass, and that is the most important rule of the lottery. You are always given plenty of time to go to the local retailer or the lottery office to claim your prize. Therefore, no excuse will be considered worthy of getting that prize back, especially because it will already have met its alternative destination.

What Happens to Lottery Tickets That Are Not Claimed?

Each lottery organization, whether public or private, will have established the final destination of the money prize that was not collected. It may go to a specific fund, charity, or even a child support program. There is not one single and universal rule, but it tends to support something that the lottery profit already supports.

unclaimed Powerball tickets


From that moment on, the winning ticket has absolutely no value whatsoever and may only be kept as a souvenir. The example below shows some unclaimed Powerball tickets in Minnesota.

What Happens to Unclaimed Multi-State Lottery Tickets?

In the case of unclaimed lottery tickets that belong to multi-state games like Lotto America or Mega Millions, the money is usually equally divided among the participating states or nations. Therefore, each one will apply for that unexpected revenue money differently, as if it were their profit share of the lottery.

What Happens to Unclaimed Prizes on Online Lottery Sites?

It is important to say that online lottery sites are divided into two different groups. If you play on lottery agent websites like theLotter, you are purchasing a real lottery ticket through the website’s staff. On the other hand, betting sites like let you bet on the results of those lotteries for the same prize, but without real tickets.

Let’s understand how the unclaimed prizes are treated differently on those websites.

Unclaimed Lottery Tickets on Lottery Agent Websites

When you use lottery agent websites, you will have purchased real lottery tickets that have the same value as a physical ticket. Fortunately for you, small prizes do not even need to be claimed and are added to your account. That is usually up to $2,500, which is quite fine.

On the other hand, you might be invited by the website to travel and claim big prizes and jackpots in person. That is when you might, for some reason, forget or give up on the prize, and then, two things may happen. If the ticket was signed as yours beforehand, the prize would go unclaimed following the rules that we already know.

However, if the ticket was expecting your signature to be handwritten by you, the website will be able to claim the prize and do whatever it wants with it.

Unclaimed Lottery Tickets on Lottery Betting Sites

Lottery betting sites do not use real lottery tickets, and, therefore, the claiming rules of the lotteries do not apply. You will still be subject to the same official lottery results and prizes, but the insurance of that website will cover them. Therefore, you do not even have to worry about claiming your prize, as it will be transferred to you, and the website will email you whenever you are a winner.

How to Avoid Losing Your Lottery Prize?

  • Whenever you play with physical tickets, have a specific place to keep them safe.
  • Always sign your tickets and include your number in case someone finds it.
  • Prefer to play online, as it is impossible to lose online tickets.
  • Play online to be reminded whenever you win a prize.
  • Prefer lottery betting sites to have that money transferred to you.
  • Let people you trust know that you have played the lottery.
  • Bookmark to have a fast way to check the results.


So many people dream about winning the lottery, and yet several of them let their lottery tickets go unclaimed. Now that you know what happens to unclaimed lottery tickets and that you cannot reverse a forgotten claim, you will probably pay more attention to your tickets. Even better, you may play online and never lose a deadline again.


How Long Do I Have Before My Lottery Tickets Are Considered Unclaimed?
That varies from one state or country to another. There are cases of only 30 days in the United States and prizes of up to 3 years in Europe.
Can Anyone Claim Unclaimed Lottery Tickets?
When we consider unclaimed lottery tickets past the maximum claim date, nobody can claim that prize.
What Is the Biggest Unclaimed Lottery Prize in History?
The biggest unclaimed lottery prize in History is Euromillions’s jackpot of £64 million back on the 5th of December in 2012.
Can Someone Else Claim My Lottery Tickets?
The ticket must be claimed by whoever has signed the back of the ticket. On the other hand, a lawyer or trustee might claim in your name via a trust.



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