$3.6 million in lottery winnings unclaimed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Posted: September 08, 2010

Let this be a lesson.

John and Kristen Zarroli of Southampton, Montgomery County, almost saw $200,000 turn into worthless pulp this summer.

"I bought the ticket at the 7-Eleven in Maple Glen," John said. "There was a sign on the door saying a winning Powerball ticket bought there had not been claimed and it was going to expire July 25. I kept asking what idiot doesn't check their tickets, so when I told my wife about it, she decided to double-check our stack. Our deal is, I buy them and she checks them. Fortunately, she keeps them all."

They filed their claim with just a couple of days to spare.

Surprisingly, many big lottery prizes go unclaimed for months, even though players must step forward within a year. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, at least $3.6 million - including a $1 million prize - is waiting to be collected in the major multistate games, Powerball and Mega Millions.

And that's just for second-tier prizes - matching all the numbers but the Powerball and Mega Ball. No totals were available for smaller prizes that are also unclaimed.

Only 11 days are left before $200,000 disappears in Harrisburg. No, it's not some budget bungle. Apparently, someone bought a Powerball ticket for the Sept. 19, 2009, drawing at a Jonestown Road Sunoco and never checked the numbers. Here they are: 5, 24, 25, 30, and 49, with a Powerball of 23.

That's just the most urgent example. Later this month, another $200,000 could vanish for a player in Pittsburgh. Two Philadelphia tickets worth $200,000 have also gone unclaimed - and tick . . . tick . . . ticket - time runs out for one next month.

One shouldn't assume, though, that every winner grabs the cash as quickly as possible, said Dominick DeMarco, New Jersey Lottery spokesman. "Some folks may have known that they won and slowly take their time," as they ponder plans, get expert advice, and set up retirement or educational funds, he said.

Here's a map to a lot of the buried treasure, starting with Philadelphia and working outward. New Jersey provided only cases of tickets unclaimed for at least six months.

Yo, Philly, check those tickets! Close but no cigar? Last October might have been a case of yes cigar, while coming close to a jackpot. Somebody stopped at Phil Herman's Cigar Store, 1501 Walnut St., and bought a Powerball ticket that matched the first five numbers in the Oct. 17 drawing - 5, 16, 25, 30, and 49 - but missed the Powerball of 39. As of Tuesday, no one had stepped forward to claim the $200,000 prize.

Kelly's News, 3178 Kensington Ave. in Kensington, sold a still-uncashed ticket for the May 26 drawing with the numbers 1, 6, 10, 13, and 20, but not the Powerball of 32. That drawing also made a $200,000 winner of Renata Rakowski of Malvern, who bought her ticket in Frazer, Chester County.

Montco doesn't need the money? There's no "will owe" in Willow Grove, not for someone who bought a ticket at the Giant Food Store, 315 York Rd., for the May 21 Mega Millions drawing. It's worth $250,000 because it matched the first five numbers - 15, 20, 23, 26, and 30 - but not the Mega Ball of 17.

Chester County could collect. An Avondale Sunoco sold a $200,000 ticket for the Powerball drawing on May 29, two days before Memorial Day. The first five numbers matched - 1, 3, 24, 28, and 41, but not the Powerball of 10. The gas station is at 8955 Gap Newport Pike.

Money doesn't snow on trees in South Jersey. Somehow, despite a couple of feet of snow in early February, someone got to the Market Place on Main Street in New Egypt, north of Fort Dix, and purchased a Powerball ticket that became worth $200,000 in the Feb. 10 drawing. The matching numbers were 5, 8, 29, 37, and 38, while the Powerball was 34.

Lots of loot for Lehigh Valley. Two $200,000 Powerball tickets bought in Northampton County have also gone uncashed. One was purchased for the May 12 drawing at the Hess at 3283 Easton Rd. in Butztown. The numbers drawn May 12 were 37, 51, 52, 53, and 58, and the Powerball was 38.

The other winner was snagged for the Aug. 4 drawing at the Turkey Hill at 73 N. Broadway in Wind Gap. The numbers were 19, 28, 30, 37, and 53, with a Powerball of 36.

Hunt for bread: October. A quarter-million dollars has yet to be claimed in Central Jersey from the Oct. 13, 2009, Mega Millions drawing. The ticket was purchased at a Rite Aid on Princeton-Hightstown Road in West Windsor, Mercer County. The first five numbers matched: 17, 31, 34, 45, 51. The Mega Ball, 24, didn't.

Thanksgiving turkey? On Nov. 24, 2009 - two days before the holiday - the Mega Millions drawing made a Hudson County, N.J., ticket worth $250,000. It was purchased at Candy Court Inc., 20 Enterprise Ave., Secaucus. Five numbers matched - 10, 11, 35, 37, and 50 - but not the Mega Ball of 12. This Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, it will turn into a pumpkin, if unclaimed.

Cumberland budget gap. Another quarter-million is hidden west of Harrisburg, unless the winner was someone just traveling through. The ticket, for the May 4 Mega Millions drawing, was sold at the Petro Stopping Center, 1201 Harrisburg Ave., in Carlisle, Cumberland County. Matched: 9, 21, 31, 36, and 43. Not matched: Mega Ball of 8.

How about a $1 million refund? Maybe someone was too busy doing taxes to notice, but the April 14 Powerball drawing made an Altoona, Pa., ticket worth $1 million. The ticket, purchased at McAbee's Corner on First Avenue, matched the first five numbers - 6, 14, 32, 38 and 52 - while having the Power Play option, which automatically boosted the regular second prize to seven figures. The Powerball was 20.

Little time left out West. On Sept. 26, 2009, the Powerball turned a ticket purchased in Pittsburgh into a voucher for $200,000. The slip - bought at the Shop N Save at 2362 Golden Mile Highway - matched 18, 20, 34, 36, and 39, but not the Powerball of 19.

What to do if you won. Sign the back of the ticket and fill out name, address, and phone number. In Pennsylvania, contact a state lottery office. For more details, go to www.palottery.state.pa.us. In New Jersey, visit www.state.nj.us/lottery or call 609-599-5824.

For more numbers and winners, see www.powerball.com and www.megamillions.com.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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