APPLETON, Wis. -- Wisconsin has more than $50 million in unclaimed lottery winnings going back to 1997.
The Post-Crescent in Appleton reports that many lotto game players trash their tickets if they don't win major jackpots. But some of those tickets were worth money, and the pot of unclaimed money keeps growing.
Unclaimed winnings in the most recent fiscal year alone amounted to $2.8 million. That represents only the lotto games of Powerball, Mega Millions, Megabucks, Supercash, Badger 5, Pick 3 and Pick 4. It does not include unclaimed winnings from instant, scratch-off games.
Winners have 180 days to claim prizes. Unclaimed dollars are sent to the lottery's property tax relief fund.
Wisconsin Lottery spokesman Andrew Bohage said $2 million to $4 million a year in unclaimed winnings is typical. He said unclaimed winnings tend to rise when top prizes skyrocket into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
"With big jackpots, you have people who don't play the game regularly," he said, adding that some of those new players don't realize they won a smaller cash prize. Others might not want to take the time to claim a modest payout.