YOU could be a millionaire; winning Florida Lotto ticket unclaimed, deadline near

Winning FL lotto ticket unclaimed, deadline near

CARROLLWOOD, Fla. - How would you like to be $16.6 million richer?

You might be and don't even know it yet!  Officials with the Florida Lottery are still searching for the person who purchased the winning ticket at the Carrollwood Market at 4550 West Village Drive in Tampa on May 25, 2013.

Woody Ward says he could be the person holding the fortune, but there's just one small problem.

"I gave the ticket to my wife," explains Ward as he purchases his daily $15 worth of lottery tickets from the Carrollwood Market on Wednesday morning.  "That day, I told her, 'hey you hold that', that's when the big pot was.  And now, we cannot find it!"

Since he and his wife heard one of the three, $16.6 million winning tickets of the $50 million 42-state jackpot, was sold at their local corner store, they've been turning their house upside down.

But according to the owner of the Carrollwood Market, Nidia Tannous, there is a chance the winner could be an "out of towner" considering the drawing was Saturday, May 25, Memorial Day weekend.

"It's very possible that it was somebody who was visiting, or somebody that was here just for that weekend," says Tannous.

Tannous has already received her cash, though.  As the store owner, she was awarded $25,000 for selling the winning ticket.  The other two winners, from Louisiana and Delaware, have also claimed their prize money.

While they enjoy their money, the Florida Lottery will continue to try their best to remind that lucky person they only have 180 days from the date of the winning drawing.  That means, come Thursday, November 21, 2013, that lottery ticket is worth less than the paper it's printed on.

"Next Thursday at midnight, it's over," says Mike Purcell of the Florida Lottery Tampa Office.  "So you want to go check those tickets.  If you're the winner, put your name on the back, call an attorney, a financial advisor and get moving quick to Tallahassee."

If no one claims the jackpot that was split between three states, then Florida will get their slice of the pie, around $780,000.  Purcell says they will take 80-percent of that money and put it towards education funding, the same fund "Bright Futures" money comes from.  The other 20-percent will go back to the Florida Lottery's general fund for promotions and future jackpots.

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