The Powerball jackpot has reportedly remained unclaimed after one woman was accused of lying about winning the $1.08bn lottery.
Days after an unidentified woman was seen at Las Palmitas Mini Market in downtown Los Angeles, seemingly overcome with emotion, the granddaughter of store owner Nabor Herrera has told the Daily Mail that no one has come forward to claim the winning ticket.
“She didn’t win – I’m not sure why she did that. I guess she just wanted to be on TV,” Sarai Palacios said. “We don’t know who the winner is yet. They still haven’t come forward.”
While Herrera told K-CAL that he thought “it was fake” because he didn’t recognise the woman, his daughters said they believe the unidentified woman is the daughter of a customer who bought the ticket.
However, the state lottery has a lengthy verification process that all winners must go through before receiving any prize money.
“The California Lottery will NOT know who the winner is until someone completes and turns in a claim form, which also requires producing the winning ticket,” said Carolyn Becker, deputy director of Public Affairs and Communications for the California Lottery, in a statement to The Independent. “The California Lottery typically does not publicly confirm or acknowledge when a prize claim has been received because there’s no way to be certain any given claim is legitimate.”
To confirm the winner of the $1.08bn jackpot, the player must file a claim form – which can be found on the California Lottery website. The winner must include their ticket number in the form, as well as attach the original ticket to the form with their legal name, signature, and address.
Claimants – the name the state lottery gives to winners hoping to claim their prize – who fail to provide the original signed ticket with their date of birth, phone number, and other personal information may delay or prevent the California State Lottery from processing the prize claim.
Once the claim is filled out, winners must deliver the completed claim form with their original ticket to any of the nine Lottery District Offices located throughout the state. They can also choose to mail the form to the state lottery’s headquarters in Sacramento.
However, after the claim is received and verified, it can take approximately eight weeks for the prize to be processed. According to Becker, a California Lottery law enforcement officer must also interview the claimant before they’re declared a winner. “There are aspects of the ticket not disclosed to the public to help protect the integrity of the win,” she said.
After all these steps are complete, the winner will then be announced to the public.
On 19 July, the winning numbers pulled during Wednesday night’s drawing were seven,10,11,13, 24 and red Powerball 24. Final ticket sales pushed the jackpot beyond its earlier estimate of $1bn to $1.08bn at the time of the drawing, moving it from the seventh largest to the sixth largest US lottery jackpot ever won.
The Powerball winner has the option to receive the total jackpot amount paid in yearly increments or a lump sum cash payment of $558.1m before taxes.
At Las Palmitas Mini Market on Thursday, reporters tried to interview the unidentified woman, but she appeared to be too ecstatic to talk. She then rushed out of the store, collapsed on her knees and continued sobbing before driving off in a BMW.
“I can’t even…I can’t,” she said, according to Inside Edition. “I’m scared right now, I’m so scared.”
While the winner of the billion-dollar jackpot has yet to be named, the store owners of Las Palmitas Mini Market won a $1m bonus for selling the lucky ticket. Herrera said he planned to use the million-dollar bonus to expand his business and take his family on a vacation to Cabo San Lucas or Cancun in Mexico.
Las Palmitas Mini Market is also just 13 miles away from the convenience store in Altadena, California, where Powerball winner Edwin Castro purchased his ticket for last November’s $2.04bn jackpot. He elected to receive his prize winning in one lump sum worth $998m, before taxes.
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