US & Canada

US Powerball lottery: Still no claimant for $520m Florida win

Couple with a lottery ticket outside the Publix supermarket in Melbourne Beach, Florida (14 January 2016) Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hopeful winners congregated outside the Publix supermarket in Melbourne Beach, Florida, after news of the jackpot first emerged

More than $520m (£360m) won by a lottery entrant in the US state of Florida is still unclaimed, officials say, despite massive media coverage.

The ticket is one of three, together worth $1.6bn, which were sold in Florida, Tennessee and California. So far only the winner in Tennessee has come forward.

Winners have 180 days to claim the prize after the 13 January draw.

Florida officials say it is not unusual for winners to be slow coming forward.

Three tickets win $1.6bn US lottery

"The winner [may want] to get their affairs in order, or seek an attorney," Florida Lottery spokeswoman Shelly Gerteisen told USA Today.

"It's a life changing amount of money, so [the winner] just may be seeking legal counsel or maybe waiting for media interest to die down."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The winning jackpot numbers were drawn at the Florida Lottery studio in Tallahassee on 13 January
Image copyright AP
Image caption The revelation that one of the three winning tickets was bought by someone in the Melbourne Beach area created a media frenzy

Ms Gerteisen said the winner could even be meeting financial advisers before coming forward to claim the prize - and that it is not unprecedented for a jackpot winner to wait six weeks before claiming.

But she said it could also be possible that the winner or winners are not aware they have won the prize.

The winning numbers were 4-8-19-27-34 and Powerball 10.

Lottery rules stipulate that if a winner does not come forward within 60 days to get the prize money, they then have a further 120 days to claim the prize as an annuity which works out to be about $7.9m the first year with 30 annual payments to follow.

Image copyright Powerball USA
Image caption Winning numbers in 13 January draw

Follow the money

Is this really the biggest?

The previous jackpot record was a March 2012 drawing of the US lottery Mega Millions which had a $656m (£457m) prize shared by three winners. Spain's El Gordo is the world's biggest lottery in financial terms - its prize in 2015 totalled €2.24bn ($2.43bn; £1.68 bn). But as there is no single jackpot - the same series are printed in multiple tickets - anyone who has the numbers wins a share of the prize. In Europe, the largest lottery prizes have been lower than in the US, but the jackpots are given as a lump sum rather than as an annuity and most countries do not tax the winnings. The biggest European prize was won in July 2011 by a ticketholder in the UK. That person took home a lump sum of $260m (£161.7m).

Where do Powerball profits go?

Back to the participating states. For example, New Jersey has sold more than $50m in tickets during the recent jackpot craze, and lottery officials said about $20m of that would return to the state. More than 15 states use the profits to fund education. California officials estimate the lottery money accounts for about 1% of the state's education budget. In Wisconsin, the profits go towards lowering property taxes.

How did the jackpot get so big?

No one had won the draw since 4 November. The prize is based on ticket sales so high jackpots usually create a snowball effect until a winning combination is picked. A new format introduced in October makes these massive jackpots more likely, meaning more records could be broken in future.

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