$2B in Lottery Winnings Unclaimed Last Year

New app helps winners cash in lost $38M a week
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2014 3:31 AM CST
$2B in Lottery Winnings Unclaimed Every Year
Powerball lottery tickets are ready to be filled out at a store in Richmond, Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Who buys lottery tickets and then doesn't bother to check if they won? A huge number of Americans, according to the creator of a new app that lets people know if they have winning tickets. LottoLotto creator Brett Jacobson tells CNN that he filed public-records requests around the country and found that just over $2 billion in lottery winnings went uncollected last year—which works out to more than $38 million a week, or enough to create five new millionaires every day. The app records the numbers when a user takes a photo of a lottery ticket, lets them know which old ones are winners, and alerts them when a ticket wins.

Some huge prizes go unclaimed—somebody missed out on a $16.6 million Powerball jackpot in Florida last year, according to the Tampa Tribune—but most of the unclaimed winnings are amounts as low as $2 or $4, says Jacobson. He says the app has had plenty of support from retailers, and with more lottery tickets sold every year, the amount of unclaimed cash is likely to keep growing. "The retailers and even the state lotteries want people to cash in secondary prizes," he says. "You're not going to take $4 and go home. You're going to buy more tickets." (More lottery stories.)

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