Even If You Don’t Win The Powerball Jackpot, Check Your Ticket For Second Place

Let’s face it: You’re probably not going to win tonight’s $550 million Powerball jackpot (and if you do, check out these tips and email me your phone number). But you could be one of the lottery’s lesser winners. You’ll never know it if you throw your ticket on the ground and stomp on it like a sore loser, never to check out those numbers again.

There are plenty of people out there who could win $1 million in second place prices that end up going unclaimed, reports CNNMoney — as there were around $800 million in unclaimed prizes awarded in the U.S. just last year in lotteries, according to the executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.

While it’s not $550 million, there are many things to be done with a cool million, am I right? There are around 70 or so people out there who will win that amount by coming close to picking all six numbers, and a few of those likely won’t come forward.

“It’s important that everyone check their numbers, even if they know they didn’t win the jackpot,” says the lottery association’s executive director. Most of the time, winners do come forward. But then there are the cases where customers just seem unaware that they scored the smaller prize.

While you better believe I’ll be checking those numbers a gazillion times in the hopes of even winning $5, not everyone is paying attention once the main event has been called.

“It doesn’t shock me,” the lottery man explains. “There are significant number of people buying tickets who don’t know there are secondary prizes. And when we get a big prize like $550 million, many people buy tickets who haven’t bought before.”

In other words — amateurs! Get on your game, friends. There’s a lot of money at stake and we don’t want you to waste your (albeit slim) chances.

$800 million in lottery prizes go unclaimed [CNNMoney]