Like a magical horse-drawn carriage that transforms into a pumpkin at midnight, someone's winning $63-million lottery ticket is about to turn into a worthless scrap of paper, according to California Lottery officials.
A winning SuperLotto Plus ticket purchased at a Chatsworth convenience store in August has yet to be redeemed at a California Lottery office, even though a deadline is fast approaching.
If the lucky winner fails to show up at a lottery office by 5 p.m. Thursday, he or she will forfeit the jackpot, officials say.
"At this point, the odds are slim of anybody coming forward," lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said.
On Wednesday morning however, a Los Angeles County man filed papers in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that he already submitted the winning ticket to lottery officials, but that they are improperly witholding payment.
In court papers, plaintiff Brandy Milliner said that lottery officials may have "destroyed" the ticket after he gave it to them. He now wants a judge to declare him the winner of the jackpot.
Lottery officials have insisted that nobody has claimed the jackpot, not even someone with a fake ticket.
"The excitement is building," Traverso said Wednesday.
The California Lottery put out a public call in November, warning the ticket holder that he or she had 180 days to claim the $63-million jackpot. Now, the clock is really winding down. Lottery officials hoped to jog someone's memory, forcing the winner to look inside couch cushions or a car glove box for the ticket, Traverso said.
Officials say the ticket was sold Aug. 8 at a 7-Eleven store at 20871 Lassen St. The winning numbers are 1-16-30-33-46, with a Mega number of 24.
If a winner does not come forward, the multimillion-dollar cash prize would be the largest unclaimed SuperLotto Plus ticket in California. The current largest unclaimed prize is $28.5 million for a ticket sold in San Lorenzo in 2003.
If the winner should somehow realize after 5 p.m. Thursday that he or she had the winning ticket, Traverso said, it would be too late.
"My hope will be for them ... that they never find it," Traverso said.
But not all is lost.
The cash sum of the unclaimed winnings will go toward funding schools in the next quarter, he said.
However, if the winner is someone who just likes to cut things a little close and walks into a lottery office by the close of business Thursday, that person will have the option of receiving a lump-sum, one-time payment of $39.9 million, or $63 million in payments over 30 years.
The retail store owner who sold the ticket will still receive $315,000, even if no one shows up to claim the $63 million.
Lottery officials say they also have yet to hear from the person who walked into a Chino Hills 7-Eleven last month and purchased a winning ticket in a massive $1.6-billion Powerball drawing.
In that case, however, the winner still has a year to claim a $528-million share of the jackpot before the ticket turns to trash.
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