Sure, I’ll Take That $23 Million

Imagine for a minute, one gloomy afternoon you’re walking outside and see a lottery ticket on the ground. It is weathered, torn at edges and crumbled just enough to make you walk right by it. However, curiosity doesn’t let you move until you pocket it. You go about your day and think nothing of it.

Crumbled LotteryLater that evening you watch your favorite TV show next to your significant other and doze off ever so slightly.

The late night news comes on and the anchors are talking about sports – you don’t care. You’re ready to go to bed.

Just before turning off the TV you are startled by a headline: “Lottery winner of $23 million jackpot sought.” They mention your area.

You know you didn’t buy any tickets so you click the remote and head on over to bed. Then you pause.

You remember the ticket you picked up earlier today and can’t help but wonder, what if…

While powering up your iPad in the pitch black room, a million thoughts run through your mind:

  • What if I won?
  • What will I do with the money?
  • Will I bother going to work tomorrow?
  • What will I buy first?
  • Who will be the first to hear of this?

Your eyelids are heavy, you’re ready to pass out into the night, but you have to know what if…

The screen is loaded, the numbers match. It’s a winning ticket!

Wouldn’t That Be Nice?

Millions of dollars go unclaimed in lottery winnings. A few days ago, $23 million was left unclaimed in a nearby area. On the day after Christmas last year, $77 million was left unclaimed in Georgia. That would have been a nice Christmas present! Another $16m in Iowa.

The list goes on and on.

I don’t have an unhealthy fascination with the lottery. I certainly don’t look for tickets on the ground either. In fact, if I were to win the lottery, I would save the winnings quietly without changing my lifestyle.

One question does linger in my mind:

Why do people fail to claim their winnings?

Is it possible the ticket was lost? What are the odds of winning a Powerball and losing the ticket? Did they simply forget about it? Perhaps the story behind that ticket is much deeper, involving a sinister plot from a horror movie where a jealous family member or friend try to murder the (un)lucky bastard to claim their winnings?

Ok, the last one would make a fascinating story!

Whatever the reason, it leaves hope that one day I may be able to walk down the street on a gloomy afternoon, and find a lotto ticket worth $23 million dollars because someone had left it unsigned and unclaimed.

Update: The lotto winner was found after a televised search. It turns out the woman had forgotten about the ticket. She drove around for 5 months with $23 million dollars in her dashboard.


What would you do if you found an unclaimed winning lottery ticket worth millions? Better yet, if it were signed – would you try to claim it as your own signature or find its rightful owner?


  1. I absolutely would not try to claim it as my own if it was already signed! That’s just asking for trouble. I would bring it into the state lottery office and see what they say.

    If I did randomly find a winning ticket and I legally had a right to it, there are a number of things I would do. I think I need to write an entire post on it because it would be too long for a comment!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..What I Care About In This ElectionMy Profile

  2. If the ticket was signed I surely wouldn’t try to claim it as my own. However, if it was a random ticket that I found on the street, then I’d take it! If it did end up winning and you tried to then turn it back in to the rightful owner, there would be THOUSANDS of people claiming that it was theirs. I’d cash in the winnings and stick with the saying, “finder’s, keepers…”
    Jason recently posted..Our Journey Out of Debt – October 2012My Profile

    • Can you imagine, finding out from someone you know that you’ve won $23m and it’s been in your car’s dashboard for 5 months?! I’d think they’re pulling a prank on me! Then my heart my drop out.

  3. $23 Million sure could buy a lot of passive income generators! Can you imagine going from broke to being a multi-millionaire overnight? Talk about a brilliant start to the week. By the way, you should research Jack Whittaker and his spiral downward after winning the $315 million dollar Powerball lottery. (Will try to include story link below, from the Washington Post). Absolutely tragic.
    Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy recently posted..Another Monday Coming ‘RoundMy Profile

    • What was he thinking going public like that?! I’d be silent about it forever. Heck, I wouldn’t even let my mother know! You’d think if you wont that sort of money, at the very least you’d try to get some financial education before touching it. Thanks for linking the article.

  4. Since I rarely play, I always forget what dates the numbers are actually drawn. Or I forget that I bought a ticket. But I’ve always checked within a week.

    If I found a ticket and it was signed, or if there was any way at all of finding the rightful owner, I would give it back right away. How could you live with the concious of having stolen $23 million from someone? Finger’s crossed, they would thank me for returning the ticket with a million of my own. I know I’d do that if I lost my winning ticket and it was returned to me.

    If there was no way of discovering the true owner, I’d claim it, but I’d still feel kind of guilty.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Is the Fiscal Cliff Really That Bad?My Profile

    • A good man’s gesture that would be! A 1m tip wouldn’t be to shabby yeah? What if the person you gave it to was a complete idiot asshole and said “thanks buddy” then farted and walked away while you were left standing there. Hahaha, wow, I’m bad.

  5. If I found a signed ticket I would not claim it I would return it to the lottery corp especially if it were worth millions. Too many people have been done in for fraudulently claiming tickets out of greed. I don’t relish spending time in jail for stupidity. I’m happy she finally found out that ticket was in her car I bet she’s happier than happy. That was a nice ending for her. Cheers Mr.CBB
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..October 2012 Canadian Budget Binder Family Budget UpdateMy Profile

    • Yeah, hopefully she really deserves it. I’m sure she does… Let’s just check the headlines once in a while to see if she spent it all within a few years lol.

  6. I would learn how to sign properly! I know, I shouldn’t, but come on, would anyone pass on $23M!! I tried to focus on my own little unclaimed money from insurance and my homeowners association lately, it is a lot of work for little money but still, I’d rather cash that up than be working to make the same amount!

    • I’m thinking about all the index funds I’d buy up, top off a 401k, buy a bunch of rental properties.. mmm – life would be sweet.

    • Hey, you could be one of the winners! Why would you not check? haha! You could be writing this from your beach lounge chair with hot men giving you foot rubs and serving margaritas! Oh well, your winnings probably went to educational funds so it’s all for a good cause :)

    • From this moment on, you will never forget. And when you win, you’ll think back to this day and *waves a pendulum* ~send me 1/3rd of your winnings ~ *continues waving the pendulum*. You hear a snap of the fingers. Where were we now…

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