No word from winning lotto ticket holder

The Associated Press
Friday June 29, 2001

The person holding the winning lottery ticket from Saturday’s record-breaking $141 million jackpot is losing thousands of dollars in interest money for each day spent laying low, financial advisers say. 

“How much they’re losing every day is amazing,” said Richard Del Monte, director of Del Monte Group Retirement Planning in Danville. 

“I don’t think the person knows, because why would you walk away from that kind of money every day?” 

The winner, who chose a lump sum payment rather than annual payments, will get about $70 million now for the winning ticket. After taxes, the person will receive a net amount of about $42.3 million, Del Monte said. 

If that money were invested in a money market account with four percent interest, the total earned per day would be $4,635, or nearly $1.7 million per year, he said. 

Still, the lucky winner has 180 days to come forward from the date of the win. 

The lottery has a list of unclaimed jackpots dating back to 1987 and totaling nearly $132.3 million – not counting the smaller prizes, as little as $1, that go unclaimed each year, lottery spokeswoman Norma Minas said. 

“Every year we have about $30 million that goes unclaimed statewide,” she said. “Every now and then we do have an unclaimed jackpot. But for this particular jackpot, I highly doubt that it will go unclaimed.” 

Minas said she thinks the winner is probably getting his financial advisers together. 

“It takes a team of financial advisers to deal with this type of thing,” she said. “Because all of a sudden, you’ve come into a very large amount of money – and managing that is a job in itself. 

“Once winners find a good adviser, they can relax and enjoy their lives. They can help their families, purchase new homes and cars and fund a college education.” 

Thirty-four percent of lottery sales go to public education, Minas said. That money is paid quarterly. This winning jackpot alone raised $80 million for public schools in the state. If no one comes forward to claim the record-breaking jackpot, that money will also be handed over to public education. 

Who can win the prize isn’t limited. Even illegal aliens or non-U.S. residents can claim a jackpot. 

“You can be from any country in the world and buy a lottery ticket,” Minas said. 

But a person who is not a U.S. citizen must pay a 31 percent federal withholding tax, rather than the 28 percent normally charged to a citizen. 

The largest unclaimed lottery jackpot to date was a $25 million prize won on Jan. 8, 2000, in San Diego. Another unclaimed jackpot was won in Pearblossom, Calif. in Los Angeles County on Jan. 20, 1996, Minas said. Though there are only 2,235 residents in the unincorporated town, no one ever claimed that $15 million dollar prize. 

Winners cannot change their payment option after buying a lottery ticket, officials said. If the winner didn’t choose a payment option, the state pays a lump sum. 

When the winner does come forward, he or she will have to wait two to four weeks for a check to be issued while the ticket is checked for authenticity and tampering.