California Lottery $26M Prize Likely Unclaimed After Woman Says She Washed Ticket

The winning ticket for a $26 million lottery drawing in California appears to have gone down the drain. Literally.

California lottery
A $26 million California Lottery jackpot has likely become forfeited as the deadline to claim the November SuperLotto Plus jackpot from November expired on Thursday. (Image: KCBS/KCAL)

When midnight struck Thursday night on the Pacific Coast, the deadline passed for someone to claim the SuperLotto Plus prize from the California Lottery. The ticket was purchased for the Nov. 14 drawing, and under lottery regulations, players have 180 days to claim their prize.

The winning numbers were 12, 13, 23, 31, 36, and the Mega Number was 10.

It is possible – extremely unlikely, but possible – that the ticket holder completed a signed claim form and sent it along with the winning ticket to the Lottery’s Sacramento office. 

In the week leading up to the deadline, the California Lottery issued a press release and went on social media in search for the one winning ticket.

California Lottery Ticket Reportedly Left in Laundry

The ticket was sold at an ARCO AM/PM convenience store in Los Angeles County.

According to KCBS, store workers said a woman came to the store in Norwalk and said the ticket was ruined when it was inadvertently with laundry.

While the store had surveillance video showing the woman buying a ticket, a lottery spokesperson told CNN the footage would not be enough to verify that it’s the winning ticket.

According to the lottery, there are a couple of ways for people with large prizes, as in those valued at more than $600, to claim them. Besides mailing in the ticket and claim form, ticket holders can visit any of the lottery’s nine district offices.

There, they can either set up an appointment for in-person service, or they can use the contactless drop-off option.

Before claiming a prize, the lottery recommends that people take a picture of both sides of the winning ticket and retain a copy of the claim form. That would serve as evidence of possession.

Not the Biggest Unclaimed Prize

If, as it appears likely to happen, the jackpot went unclaimed, the lottery would turn the abandoned prize, a cash value of $19.7 million, over to the California public schools system. Since it began offering games 35 years ago, the lottery has given more than $1 billion in unclaimed prizes to the schools.

Someone missing out on claiming a life-changing sum is a rare occurrence. But there have been bigger prizes that were left unclaimed, according to TheLotter.com.

The biggest US prize that was never awarded was a $77 million Powerball jackpot from June 2011. The winning ticket was purchased in Georgia, but no one came forward with it after six months.

There was even a bigger jackpot in California abandoned more than five years ago. Two men each tried to claim a $63 million SuperLotto Plus jackpot that was drawn in August 2015. But neither claim was validated.

Not everyone, though, loses out. While the schools get the $19.7 million, the ARCO AM/PM store that sold the winning ticket still gets to keep the $130,000 bonus.

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