clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

$2.5M Hoosier lotto jackpot remains unclaimed

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier lottery players have been digging through their trash, scouring their cars and bringing fistfuls of old tickets, some in shoeboxes, to an Indianapolis store, hoping they would find the winning — but still unclaimed — $2.5 million jackpot ticket.

The multi-million Hoosier Lotto prize has sat unclaimed for six months, and time was running out Friday as a 5 p.m. deadline for cashing in the winning ticket neared.

As of Friday afternoon, no one had walked away a millionaire.

"I looked around. I looked in every trash can for it," Mike Tinder, a 33-year-old life coach from Indianapolis, said Friday at the Meijer convenience store where the winning ticket was sold.

The chance for instant riches has generated a steady buzz this week at the store on the city's south side. One woman asked a store clerk to check the surveillance video, saying she believed she had bought the winning ticket for the Aug. 19 drawing.

Indianapolis utility worker Tom Newton looked through old tickets Thursday but came up empty. He worried that he might have had the winner but lost the ticket somehow.

"I hope it wasn't me that forgot the damn ticket and lost $2.5 million," said Newton, 31.

Another customer said a friend had spent part of the day rummaging through her truck because she remembered buying a ticket at the store last summer.

Some wondered why anyone would leave a million-dollar bonanza untouched in a time of high unemployment and economic need. Had they forgotten? Had they lost it? Had they died?

"It's probably one of those things where they put it in a drawer and forgot they had it," said Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi.

Lottery players have left money on the table before. Hoosier Lottery spokesman Andrew Reed said a $5 million Hoosier Lotto jackpot went unclaimed in March 2004, and no winner stepped forward in September 2002 to claim their $50 million Powerball jackpot. In 2007, a $19 million New Jersey Lottery prize wasn't claimed. Florida's largest unclaimed payout was a $50 million Lotto ticket sold in 2003, and no one produced a winning $7 million Lotto Texas ticket last year.

Reed said no Indiana winner has ever stepped forward just hours before the deadline to claim a large prize.

Guglielmi said there's still hope. Meijer employees have been encouraging customers to check their old tickets, just in case.

"As the retailer who sold the ticket, we would like nothing more than to see the person find it and get their winnings," he said.

Meijer will get its 1 percent share of the jackpot whether it's claimed or not, Reed said. The remainder of the jackpot will go back to the unclaimed prize fund, which is used for future games and promotions, he said.

Even though none of the lotto players at the store had the winning ticket so far, it hasn't stop them from dreaming about what they would do if they won.

Tinder said he would help his parents pay off their mortgage and then hand out cash to the people he meets.

"I'd give it all away to everyone around me and we'd all go have a big party," he said after a moment's thought.

The ticket matched all six winning numbers in the Aug. 19 drawing: 4-5-17-30-38-43.