Lottery Reminds Players To Check Tickets For $16.5 Million Winner Still Out There
DES MOINES, Iowa - Six months after a $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot was won with a ticket purchased during the holidays at a Des Moines convenience store, the prize remains unclaimed. No jackpot winner in Iowa Lottery history has ever taken this long to claim their prize, and the jackpot is one of the biggest unclaimed prizes ever among U.S. lotteries.
Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said Wednesday that while several people have come forward hoping that they were the big winner, the information they have shared does not match the facts about the winning ticket - and none of them had the actual ticket to present.
"Someone legitimately won this prize and we want to award the rightful winner the money," Rich said. "We've heard from several people who were worried they might have 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."
Rich said that among the reports the lottery has received are:
Rich said that none of the details provided thus far match the facts about the winning ticket.
"We certainly want to put folks' minds at ease if they're afraid they've misplaced the winning ticket. Our investigators take every inquiry seriously," Rich said. "But these situations also show why we don't release all of the details about winning tickets. Our security department uses that information as part of its investigations and we cannot compromise that work. We must ensure the security and integrity of our games."
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 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.
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.
Steve Bogle, the lottery's vice president of security, said that in addition to checking into the reports the lottery has received, lottery investigators also have worked to possibly identify the jackpot winner by tracking similar ticket purchase patterns. While their work has pinpointed several people who have played the same set of winning numbers, none of them appear to have made the jackpot-winning purchase, Bogle said.
Bogle also said that even after all this time, the jackpot-winning ticket has never been checked on a lottery terminal in Iowa.
"The jackpot-winning ticket was purchased over the holidays when there always seems to be a lot going on, so it's possible that whoever bought this ticket just set it aside somewhere," he said. "It's a good time to check all your tickets. You never know - it might be you.
"We also remind players to sign their tickets," he said. "That way, they are identified as belonging to you."
The jackpot 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.
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. Iowa Lottery players have won eight jackpots in the game so far.
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: