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$14 Million Lottery Jackpot Expires

1 February 2005

CHICAGO, Illinois – (PRESS RELEASE)-- A full year after the initial drawing on January 31, 2004, the largest unclaimed jackpot in Illinois Lottery history officially expired last night at 12 midnight. While many people attempted to claim the prize, the winning ticket was never presented for validation and the prize money will become part of the Lottery's contribution to the State Common School Fund which supports K-12 public education in Illinois.

The winning ticket bearing the numbers 14 - 23 - 24 - 36 - 37 - 50 was sold at Gas City #86 located at 855 Center Rd. in Frankfort, IL. According to Lottery rules, players have one year from the date of the drawing to claim their prize and must submit a claim form and the original winning ticket for verification before receiving their money.

"We really gave it our all in trying to find this winner," said Illinois Lottery Superintendent Carolyn Adams. "We've contacted media all across the country and conducted interviews for 12 hours straight yesterday, but to no avail. Unfortunately, one of our players just missed out on a $14 million dream."

Over the last week, the Lottery claims office has been buzzing with hundreds of calls and inquiries about this major prize as the deadline for expiration drew near. Three actual claim forms were filed before close of business on Monday, January 31, but in every instance the person filing the claim said that they did not have the winning ticket to accompany it. The Lottery also allowed winners to call into a voicemail service after 4:30 p.m. CST where they could leave their name, contact information and the ticket serial number before 12 midnight. More than 40 people called and left messages, only three left serial numbers for verification, and none matched the serial numbers of the actual winning ticket.

Having a Lottery jackpot this large remain unclaimed is rare, but not unheard-of. Previously, the largest unclaimed Illinois Lottery prize was a $6 million jackpot from September 9, 2000. The next largest was a $3 million unclaimed prize from November 11, 2000.

"We really want and like to see our players collect on their prizes," said Superintendent Adams. "But even though one individual lost out on $14 million, that money will still go to good use as part of our contribution to the State Common School Fund which benefits education. Last year, the Lottery contributed $570 million to this fund and this additional money should help to make this year's contribution even larger."

Each year, the Lottery transfers its profits to the State Common School Fund which is also comprised of revenue from the state, the federal government and local governments. In fiscal year 2004, the combined revenue of the State Common School Fund was $20.3 billion dollars and during the annual budget session, the Illinois General Assembly decides how much of this money to appropriate to each school district. Over the course of its 30 year history, the Lottery has contributed more than $12 billion dollars to this fund.

In light of this record breaking unclaimed prize, the Lottery suggests the following tips for players to ensure that a prize this large never goes unclaimed again:

1. Keep your tickets in a safe place. One of the most common reasons for missing out on prize winnings is losing a ticket. Try to pick one consistent place where you always keep your tickets so you won't forget where you placed them. Also make sure that this place is secure and away from clutter where the ticket could be easily confused with miscellaneous paper set for disposal.

2. Check your tickets against the winning numbers shortly after your purchase. By not letting long periods of time lapse between purchasing a ticket and checking for the winning numbers, you cut down on the risk of forgetting about the ticket or misplacing it. This can also help to prevent frantic last minute searches as expiration dates can quickly sneak up on winners if they are not mindful.

3. Honor ticket agreements if more than one party is involved. Another common reason for players to miss out on prize winnings is when they become locked into long, unfriendly disputes over who has the rights to the winning ticket. If you buy a ticket as part of an office pool, or a group of friends, make sure to predefine and agree on how the winnings will be split. The same applies for divorce proceedings.

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