How Does The Florida Lottery Distribute Unclaimed Winnings?

Written By Aleeyah Jadavji on March 7, 2023
How unclaimed winnings are distributed by Florida Lottery

Every year, Florida bettors win millions through the state lottery.

A good chunk of that comes from in-state drawings or scratch-off tickets. But Florida also participates in three multi-state drawings, including the wildly popular Powerball drawings. 

The odds of winning the record-breaking $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot last November was roughly 1 in 292.2 million. However, the winner took three months to claim his money. 

What happens when lottery winnings go unclaimed, and how does the Florida Lottery distribute the funds?

Winner of largest Powerball jackpot finally comes forward

It was more than three months since the record-setting $2.04 billion Powerball drawing. Immediately after the Nov. 7 drawing, Powerball officials said one winning ticket was sold in California.

Up until mid-February, many wondered if the winner would come forward. Few details have been given, but the winner appears to be Edwin Castro from California. Per his request, lottery officials withheld personal information about him aside from his name. 

Castro said he was in shock over the win. He also said he was happy that the California public education system collected $156 million in proceeds.

“As someone who received the rewards of being educated in the California public education system, it’s gratifying to hear that as a result of my win, the California school system greatly benefits as well.”

How does Powerball distribute unclaimed winnings?

It seems shocking, but it’s not uncommon for winning lottery tickets to go unclaimed. Last week, Florida Lottery officials published a press release saying a winning scratch-off ticket worth $186,000 was set to expire in five days. 

The timeframe for winners to come forward ranges from 90 days up to a year, depending on the type of jackpot.

In the case of Powerball, winners have up to a year to claim their prize money. Castro chose to accept a lump sum payment of $997.6 million instead of 29 annual payments that increase by 5% every year.

In multi-state games, officials return unclaimed winnings to the participating states. Of the Florida Lottery’s share, around 80% goes to public education. The remaining 20% stays with the Lottery to fund other games and promotional offerings.

How much of the jackpot would Powerball give back to Florida?

The jurisdictions participating in Powerball combine for a population of 321.6 million. Florida has a population of 27.8 million, making up around 6.7% of the possible player pool. Assuming equal participation among the states, we can estimate what Florida would receive.

If the record-breaking $2.04 billion Powerball went unclaimed, the Sunshine State would have received roughly $136.7 million from the jackpot.

Of that amount, 80%, or $109.3 million, would have gone to the education fund. The Florida Lottery would take the remaining 20%, or $27.3 million, for promotions.

The Florida Lottery has awarded more than $43 billion to its players since it began in 1988. Over the last two decades, more than $1 billion annually has gone to education.

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Aleeyah Jadavji

Aleeyah hails from Toronto, Ontario in Canada, and has worked predominantly in the poker industry since 2015. From writing articles to interviewing big winners and live reporting on poker's biggest stages, she's seen it all. Aleeyah loves to cook and create content to showcase her passion for food and travel. She also loves sriracha and doesn't trust anyone that believes it's not a top-tier condiment.

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