Local lottery operators say that it is rather common for lottery winnings to go unclaimed and regularly need to make official announcements urging players to double-check their tickets.
The biggest ever unclaimed lottery prize was a £63 million payout from a EuroMillions draw held in 2012. But millions in accumulated smaller winnings actually make up the bulk of unclaimed lottery winnings. It's put forward that player apathy and forgetfulness leads to players misplacing their tickets or forgetting that they bought tickets all together.
According to a 2019 study it is estimated that up to 35% of all South Africans play the lottery, and nearly half of them play every week. With so many people playing the lottery every week it is understandable that some people will forget to check their tickets.
Lotto laziness leads to millions in unclaimed winnings in South African lotteries.
The South African Powerball lottery accounts for most of the unclaimed lottery winnings in the country. Earlier in the year South African lottery players were urged to check their tickets when two big unclaimed Powerball prizes went unclaimed.
In May of 2021 there was an unclaimed R20 million jackpot from the South African Powerball lottery. This was one of the biggest unclaimed Powerball jackpots in South Africa, but eventually the winner came forward with the winning ticket. The winner had only played a single Powerball ticket to win the jackpot.
But even more unclaimed winnings have been recorded this year according to Ithuba. Just a few weeks before the unclaimed R20 million jackpot, there was a draw in which a single ticket holder from Mpumalanga won a massive R30 million Powerball jackpot. A few weeks after the draw, and after an announcement from Ithuba, the winner eventually came forward with the winning Powerball ticket to claim the jackpot.
South Africans have 365 days from the draw to come forward with their winning Powerball tickets. After the deadline all of the unclaimed lottery winnings will go toward various South African charities and other organisations.
It's not just the South African Powerball that is recording millions unclaimed lottery winnings. Earlier this year three big lottery jackpots to the value of over R30 million went unclaimed.
The first prize was a R22 million jackpot which was split between two winning tickets. Neither of these winners came forward to claim their prizes, and Ithuba put out multiple statements urging South Africans to double-check their lottery tickets to see if they had won.
Another jackpot went unclaimed around the same time to the tune of R15 million. The winner bought a single ticket using a banking app. After weeks passed and no winner came forward, Ithuba put out a call urging players to double-check their tickets if they had played using the banking app.
There was another unclaimed R13.8 million jackpot from an January 8th draw in 2020. The winner spent R20 on the winning ticket from a SuperSpar in Boksburg. After months the prize was still unclaimed, and eventually Ithuba had to put out a statement urging players to check their tickets.
One of the biggest unclaimed lotto jackpots in South Africa was a R23.7 million jackpot won in September 2018, but no one came forward to claim the prize. The petrol station where the winning ticket was sold even put out a statement urging people who had bought tickets there to check if they had the winning ticket. Unfortunately no one produced the winning ticket and the jackpot was forfeited.
Even the winner of the biggest lottery win ever in South Africa, a R232 million USA Powerball jackpot, took seven days before coming forward with the winning ticket.
According to an interview on CapeTalk radio, Ithuba spokesperson Khensani Mabuza said that a whopping R230 million is currently unclaimed across various lottery games in South Africa.
Of this entire amount there is a single R20 million payout that remains unclaimed. This is one of the largest jackpots to go unclaimed in South Africa. She also went on to say that over the years the amount of unclaimed lottery winnings has increased due to more people playing the lottery and winning.
She went on to say that more people are using banking apps and lotto websites to play their tickets. This is in part because the internet is becoming more prevalent in our everyday lives, but also because it makes playing the lottery safer, easier and more affordable.
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