When It's Draw Time, Do You Know Where Your Lottery Tickets Are?

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Disaster! Ryan Kitching lost a £50,000 winning UK National Lottery ticket in this messy room, but found it with the help of his mother in time to collect his prize. Daily Mail

The man reached into his pocket to grab his million dollar ticket. Staff at the Oklahoma state lottery looked on expectantly as he patted his pockets frantically.

His wife looked mortified as they both realized he had lost his winning ticket - and the million dollar check he had come to collect.

Jay Fink of the lottery organization said, ""His wife had told him to keep it somewhere safe and when they got here, it was gone."

Luckily, after a few hours of searching at home, the couple found the ticket and went home again... this time as millionaires.

They were lucky. Millions of dollars around the world are lost forever because the winners either forgot, or lost their tickets.

At last count over half a billion dollars went uncollected in 2013 from lotto, scratch-off games, and daily lotteries.

When NBC News contacted states to get a figure on the lost prizes, they found Montana had the least at $930,000 last year. About $65 million went unclaimed in New York in that time.

Losing tickets is big business. So here are some tips for claiming some of the $500,000,000 that escapes every year:

  • Always double check your tickets. Take them to the machine, even when you think you have no wins.
  • Were there any extra prizes? If you used a 'Megaply' extra ticket, you could be holding a $5 million ticket you didn't know about.
  • Check for more extras. Some lotteries have redraws of expired and unwon tickets, and you won't know unless you visit the store.
  • If you have a winning ticket, immediately write your name on the back and sign it. That covers mosts problems of identity claims.
  • Remember where you put your tickets! Always put them in the same place. That way when the excitement kicks in, force of habit will always lead you to them.
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Canadian Kelly Kim thought the ticket checking machine said $8,000 for her Lotto 649 ticket. Instead it was $8 Million. She didn't see the extra 3 zeros that catapulted her win to a multi-million dollar status, and almost lost her fortune.

So where do the forgotten millions end up? In the USA, some state lotteries will put the money into education.

Other states, like New York, will return the funds to the prize pool, or fund a one-time draw with the proceeds.

“Lotteries love to give prizes away,” said Charles Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.

And players love keeping the key to a fortune.

Read More:The Unclaimed Millions.