Melbourne’s mystery $55 million Powerball winner has another 154 days to claim their winnings, before the money is handed to the Victorian government.
The mystery shopper who bought the ticket at a newsagency in Brunswick in Melbourne’s inner north has been the subject of a massive publicity campaign to track them down and, predictably, been the talk of the town since failing to come forward after the January 11 draw.
Powerball spokeswoman Bronnie Spencer told The New Daily the winner has six months to claim their prize from Tatts before the windfall is handed over to Victoria’s State Revenue Office (SRO), leaving the winner until about July 11 to come forward.
A spokesman for Victoria’s Department of Treasury and Finance said the unclaimed funds can be used for general government purposes and attract interest.
Fortunately, under Victorian law, the ticket-holder has an indefinite period to come forward and claim it from the government should they realise they are holding the winning ticket.
Ms Spencer said Tatts was “trying to spread the word far and wide”, while store owner Sam Misiano had been “very proactive about getting the word out” by sharing the search on social media platforms.
Until last month’s $55 million Powerball mystery, Australia had just six prizes worth $6.11 million in unclaimed Division 1 lottery winnings, Ms Spencer said.
The next-largest unclaimed prize is $2 million in Cairns, with five of the six tickets all bought in Queensland, for prizes totalling $5.72 million.
In Queensland, those winners have seven years to claim their prizes before the government keeps it for good, while the Sydneysider still holding a ticket worth $400,000 bought in August 2014, has six years before that money goes permanently into government coffers.
Ticket-holders in South Australia, meanwhile, are given only one year to claim their winnings before the government whips it away.
Tasmania and the Northern Territory, like Victoria, hold any winnings indefinitely for ticket-holders to claim.
Ms Spencer said it wasn’t unusual for larger jackpot prizes to not be claimed immediately, as the bigger prize pools tend to attract more “infrequent players” who can be sceptical about their prospects.
“Regular players, those who play weekly, tend to check their tickets, but in the case of the infrequent players, they are more inclined to not believe they could ever be the winner of a major prize,” Ms Spencer explained.
But Ms Spencer said Brunswick’s $55 million is fast shaping as an Australian first.
The only other case that came close was in 2013, when a $50 million Powerball winner in Dubbo, in rural New South Wales, went one week before claiming the mega-prize.
Again, they didn’t check their ticket, because they never dreamed they would be the winner of such a large purse, Ms Spencer said.
Last year, a man from Berwick, in Melbourne’s outer south-east, carried around a ticket for 167 days – a fortnight shy of the six-month deadline – before checking it, as he only cleaned out his wallet once it became too full.
He was delighted to discover the ticket was worth $509,000.
In 2017, more than a year after his winning numbers were drawn, a Newcastle man found a ticket in the bottom of a shopping bag while cleaning out his car, 414 days after the draw, to find he’d won $1 million.
“I line the bottom of my reusable Aldi shopping bags with old beer cartons to give them some strength,” the man said at the time.
“The ticket was hidden underneath it and I didn’t know it was there!”