They had 180 days to cash in their $1 million Mega Million prize winning ticket.
And they almost didn’t make it.
Erin and Raleigh Hill of Stallings, N.C., had held onto the winning ticket for months, despite lottery authorities’ desperate attempts to locate the winners.
Raleigh Hill, a baggage handler, told Lotto officials that when he learned he had won, he waited weeks to tell his wife Erin, who works for the federal government.
Months went by.
Erin encouraged her husband to redeem the ticket, but fearing “hoopla,” he stashed it away in everything from a Bible to a shoebox, lottery officials said.
At one point, he even worried that he had lost the ticket, forgetting where he had put it.
REMINDER: sign your ticket. Stash it in the bank if you must.
Me? I’d cash it in almost immediately. But that’s me.
“When she brought the subject up, I’d always say, ‘We’ll talk about it,'” Raleigh said to lottery officials today as he and his wife picked up their prize.
“It wasn’t about the money. It was the attention… I was overwhelmed. Nervous.”
If the couple hadn’t come forward, their good fortune would have meant nothing.
It wouldn’t have been the first time that a prize went unclaimed. In Texas, one unlucky lotto winner failed to collect a prize worth $4.1 million.
But, why is it so common for lottery tickets to go unclaimed?
People forget. People are too lazy to check their tickets.
Don’t let that be you.
If the Hills had waited too long, their $1 million prize would have been divided equally between the lottery’s education fund and, to an unusual benefactor, Medicaid.
The lottery intended to direct funds to a Medicaid shortfall instead of the typical allotment for prizes for players in 2011.
The North Carolina Lottery, five years old, has seen 16 tickets go unclaimed. That’s at least four tickets a year — remember we’re not in year five, yet — where winners have failed to claim anywhere from $100,000 to $800,000.
What a shame.
A lesson to learn…check your freakin tickets.