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Millions in Lottery Jackpots Expiring before Being Claimed

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If you are the ticket holder for the winning Massachusetts Mega Millions consolation prize with the numbers 2, 7, 10, 16 and 29, we have some bad news for you. You have just missed your chance to claim $250,000.  The jackpot expired Wednesday.

In six more days, on Aug. 3, a $900,000 jackpot is in danger of becoming little more than wishful thinking for some unlucky "winner" in Florida.

ABC News has found at least six other jackpots ranging from $10,000 -- two in Arizona expiring Aug. 8 and Aug. 22 -- to $16.5 million -- in Iowa, expiring in December -- that are about to evaporate over the next four months.

Other prizes at risk of vanishing are $55,404 in Florida on Aug. 23, $297,525 in California next month and a California treasure of $226,991 on Sept. 22.  In a sampling of just four states, ABC News found $17.5 million of unclaimed prizes in danger of expiration, leaving would-be winners with not even a penny of their prize money.

Topping the annals of the biggest losers is Clarence Jackson, a Connecticut man who turned in his winning ticket three days too late in 1996, missing out on a $5 million bonanza.  Any unclaimed ticket has since been known in the business as a "Clarence Jackson."

Some poor -- or poorer -- lottery player is blissfully unaware of missing out on a $51.7 million Powerball ticket sold in Indiana in 2002.

Less heartbreaking, but still lucrative tickets expire every month throughout the country.  In fact, approximately 2 percent of lottery prizes in the U.S. go unclaimed each year, according to Alex Traverso, the spokesman for the California lottery.

That percentage may seem miniscule but in California alone that amounted to $17.25 million of unclaimed prize money last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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