Lottery tickets worth millions have yet to be turned in

SEATTLE -- Two Washington residents have become millionaires and may not even know it, and if they haven't already lost their lottery tickets, they could be slow stepping forward to claim the winnings.

The winners have 180 days from the drawing to claim their money. There's $1 million waiting for a person who played Powerball in Bothell earlier this month. The winner of a $3.3 million lotto ticket bought in Lynnwood in March is out of luck after September.

Financial adviser Michael Boone said it might not be a case of missing tickets.

"There's a lot of good reasons why somebody might wait a little bit," he said.

Boone said the decision to delay coming forward could be more calculating than careless, especially if the mystery winner's marriage is on the skids.

"We had a call from a person who had won a lottery and had a ticket, but they were in the ninth inning of a divorce," he said.

If not the state of marriage, maybe a state income tax has them on hold. Boone said some clients hold off on claiming winnings so they can establish residency in a state without income tax.

Washington Lottery officials say every year nearly $4 million in winnings go unclaimed. At Sea-Tac Airport, travelers buy $20,000 in scratch tickets a week, but few are willing to return through security to claim a couple of dollars.

Tickets have been turned in crumpled, washed and taped together, but lottery officials say if they can still scan them, they will pay out the money.

A third of all unclaimed winnings in Washington go into the state's economic strategic reserve account. On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee released $150,000 from that reserve to help communities losing business because of the Skagit River Bridge collapse.