I have been asked all kinds of questions about lotteries over the years and one of the most frequent (and easy to answer)…is how to cash out.
So I went to someone I knew at the Powerball headquarters and asked the same question. Most players, by the way, know all this (so forgive me if you already know), but for new players or those of you reading this from countries other than the U.S.:
You can generally claim a prize of under $600 at any retailer in the state where you bought the ticket, but be advised that some retailers will not carry the cash needed to pay higher prizes.
Sometimes, a convenience store that has safety concerns may not carry the cash. In a few places, there are “super retailers” that can pay up to $25,000. Look for a clerk wearing a cape and tights.
Each state lottery has its own central computer system. There are about seven different system platforms operated by three different vendors in a highly competitive market. The state lottery systems are not interconnected.
As powerful and as fast as computers are, you might imagine the power and cost needed to develop a system in each state to record and store play numbers for the entire claim period for all states and that is always connected to every other state so each state is instantly aware of plays made and cashed.
A system of transferring money back and forth between states would also have to be maintained as states cash each other’s tickets. While this system would be convenient for the rare player who travels, the vast majority of winning tickets are purchased by someone who is close to the lottery terminal where it was purchased.
You do NOT have to cash the ticket at the same store, but you do have to cash the ticket in the same state. You can also claim any prize – and prizes over $600 – at the state lottery headquarters. You can even claim winning tickets by mail. Click on a state at the map link below to find the address and possibly a claim form: