Surprisingly often, people don’t pick up their lottery winnings – even Powerball jackpots

  • A worker pushes shopping carts outside the Hannaford supermarket Monday in Raymond. New Hampshire lottery officials said someone bought the winning $487 million Powerball ticket at the store, but no one has come forward yet. JIM COLE / AP

Monitor staff
Published: 8/2/2016 11:52:29 PM

While you wait to hear who bought the ticket at a Raymond grocery store that won nearly half a billion dollars from Powerball, it might be worth digging through your old Powerball tickets. That’s because somebody who bought a $50,000 winner in Concord nine months ago still hasn’t claimed the money.

Since Powerball tickets are only good for one year after their drawing, the holder of that ticket (bought at Concord Shell on Loudon Road) will be out of luck as of Nov. 8.

After that, the $50,000 will revert to the states that participate in Powerball, divided up by each state’s proportion of ticket sales.

Not claiming Powerball winnings, even very big winnings, is more common than you might think, said Maura McCann, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Lottery.

Since Powerball started in 1992 (New Hampshire joined in 1995), there have been 351 jackpot winners – and three of those were never claimed, worth a total of $143 million.

None of them were sold in New England, though; we’re probably too cheap to forget about that kind of money.

All of this is in the news, of course, because somebody bought a winning Powerball jackpot ticket at the Hannaford on Freetown Road in Raymond last week, making him or her eligible for a payout of $331 million or a 30-year payout totaling about $487 million.

If you’re looking for a lucky number system to copy, sorry: The ticket was an “easy pick,” with randomly generated numbers.

As of Tuesday, the buyer of the ticket still hadn’t come forward, hopefully because he or she (or they) is talking with attorneys and financial planners about how best to handle the sudden infusion of cash.

“Everybody you ever knew from the third grade on is going to be calling you,” predicted Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, in a press release about how to handle lottery success. “Make sure you know who the people are who are important to you before you claim that prize.”

State law requires the name of the winner to be publicized, but it is possible to get around that law by setting up a trust fund to collect the money. Usually an attorney representing the fund signs for the check, leaving the actual winner anonymous.

Staying anonymous is hard, however, McCann said. “You mention it to your wife, who mentions it to her mother, who mentions it to a co-worker. It’s hard to keep it secret. . . . We’re hearing the rumor mill already as to who it is, but there’s nothing confirmed until they walk through the door.”

McCann added, “We believe in releasing the name of the winners, because it only enhances the integrity of the New Hampshire lottery. It would be difficult if we said, ‘We have a winner but we can’t tell you who it is.’ ”

One definite winner is Hannaford. The store that sells a winning ticket gets 1 percent of the total prize, up to a maximum of $75,000. (Without the cap, the store would get more than $1 million.)

The store is a bigger winner than it would have been a couple of years ago: In 2014, the New Hampshire Legislature raised that maximum from $30,000.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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