Lottery Reminds Players To Check Tickets For $16.5 Million Winner That's Out There
DES MOINES, Iowa - Three months after a $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot was won by a ticket purchased at a Des Moines convenience store, the prize remains unclaimed. Lottery officials continue to search for the big winner while reminding players to double-check their tickets.
Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said Tuesday that with big lottery jackpots currently grabbing attention nationwide, it's a good time to remind players to check their tickets for any prizes they may have won.
"Today marks three months from the date of the drawing where the Hot Lotto jackpot was won," Rich said. "Whoever won this prize has now waited longer to claim the prize than any lottery jackpot winner in Iowa in at least the past decade. And, we know that the $16.5 million-winning ticket has never been checked at one of our terminals, so it's possible the big winner still doesn't know the good news."
The Mega Millions® jackpot rolled to $319 million before being won in Friday night's drawing by someone who bought a ticket in New York. The Powerball® jackpot, meantime, has grown to an estimated $153 million for Wednesday's drawing and the Hot Lotto jackpot stands at an estimated $6.13 million for Wednesday.
Rich said that with so many people buying tickets for the big drawings, a lot of people will be checking their tickets in the next few days, and they could discover they've won a big prize.
"The jackpot-winning ticket in Hot Lotto was purchased in Des Moines over the holidays, so it's possible that whoever bought the winning ticket just set it aside somewhere," Rich said. "And, a lot of other big prizes have been won in Iowa during the past week, so it's a good time to check all your tickets. You never know - it might be you."
Iowa Lottery players won the following prizes in the past week:
The Hot Lotto jackpot-winning ticket was purchased at Quik Trip, 4801 N.E. 14th St. in Des Moines. The lucky ticket matched all six numbers selected in the Dec. 29 Hot Lotto drawing to win the grand prize. The winning numbers that night were: 3-12-16-26-33 and Hot Ball 11.
The $16.5 million jackpot is the third-largest prize ever offered in the game, and the seventh-largest Iowa Lottery prize won to date.
Rich said that the lottery does not release a ticket's date or time of sale for security reasons, but some other details can be provided. The jackpot-winning play was on a ticket that spanned five Hot Lotto drawings from Dec. 25 to Jan. 8, he said.
Hot Lotto tickets in Iowa expire a year from the date of the drawing in which a prize is won, so Rich emphasized there's still plenty of time for the jackpot to be claimed. It's just unusual that the lottery hasn't heard from anyone yet, he said.
"We're checking our system records and going back over our procedures from past jackpot claims to see if we can help narrow down just who the big winner might be," Rich said. "Someone legitimately won this prize and we want them to have the money. We've heard from several people who were worried they'd won the prize and somehow misplaced the ticket, but none of them have turned out to be the winner. You must present the winning ticket to the lottery in order to claim the prize."
The Hot Lotto jackpot from Dec. 29 can be claimed in annual, annuitized payments totaling $16.5 million over 25 years or as a one-time, lump-sum payment of nearly $10.8 million.
Rich said that in addition to its other efforts to find the winner, the Iowa Lottery is working with surrounding lotteries and the 14 other lotteries in the Hot Lotto game to help spread the word about the unclaimed jackpot. Anyone in a state adjoining Iowa should check their ticket if it was purchased in Iowa, he said.
"The holidays were better to someone than they realized," Rich said with a chuckle.
The Hot Lotto game began in April 2002, offering Powerball-style play but with easier odds. Hot Lotto players choose five numbers from a pool of 39 and another number, called the Hot Ball, from a pool of 19. The Hot Lotto jackpot starts at $1 million and grows until someone wins it. Tickets in the game cost $1. Hot Lotto drawings are held at about 9:40 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, just before the Powerball drawings. Hot Lotto tickets are sold in Iowa, 13 other states and the District of Columbia.