TIPTON — Is Tipton the most forgetful place in Iowa?
That was a question Iowa Lottery officials asked Friday morning in a news conference to draw attention to two missing winning Powerball tickets.
One Powerball player bought a ticket in November at a Kum & Go convenience store near Highway 38 and Interstate 80. The ticket is worth $1 million. At the six-month mark, that prize still is unclaimed.
Another buyer at the Family Foods store in Tipton bought a winning $10,000 ticket in January. That prize also is unclaimed.
Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said the largest lottery prize that’s ever gone unclaimed in Iowa is $200,000. Neubauer said the Iowa Lottery wanted to publicize the unclaimed prizes to get everyone in Tipton to check their pockets.
“Get [the ticket] out of the sock drawer, out of the sun visor of your car and double check it. You do have to have the winning ticket to claim the prize.” Neubauer said.
“It’s unusual to see one big unclaimed prize in a community, and Tipton has two,” Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said. “Maybe there’s something in the water, but I hope not in the trash.”
Powerball winners have one year from the date of purchase to claim prizes. That means the $1 million winner must come forward by Nov. 17 to claim that prize.
During Friday’s news conference, lottery officials hinted that their publicity strategy might be paying off already.
Residents in Tipton said the mission millionaire, along with the $10,000 winner, are constant topics of conversation around town.
“Everybody thought it was already claimed. If it were mine, I think I’d have claimed it by now,” Ray Lamb, who works near the convenience store that sold the big prize, said.
Other residents agreed someone from out of town may have snagged the big winning ticket. Some think it’s possible the $10,000 winner is a local. But one resident, Carolyn Wilson, doubted that.
“They had to be traveling through — Tipton people are too smart,” Wilson said.
Neubauer said the lottery officials have surveillance video from the Kum & Go to match the image of anyone claiming the big prize. Money that is unclaimed goes back into the prize pool so players have another chance to win it.