So You Lost Your Lottery Ticket – What Now?

By Nicholas Christensen
Last Updated: December 7, 2018

Believe it or not, lottery prizes worth billions of dollars go unclaimed every year. Take the Oregon Megabucks lottery as an example: In 2015 alone, the game logged $5.9 million in unclaimed prizes.

Sure, most of the time, prizes go unclaimed simply because people don’t bother checking their numbers. However, sometimes it’s a more serious and difficult situation: lost lottery tickets. Yes, it happens. So what should you do when you lose yours?


$ 262,000,000
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Can You Win with a Lost Lottery Ticket?

Lost Lotto Ticket Article Header Image

Different lotteries have different rules. But many have one rule in common: they’ll tell you that they’re not liable for lost tickets. If you lose your ticket, that’s on you — and the lottery isn’t responsible for paying out on lost tickets.

But some lotteries (like the UK’s National Lottery) can make exceptions. Players who lose their tickets can lodge an appeal no longer than 30 days from the relevant draw. To prove that you own the ticket, many of these lotteries will ask you to correctly identify when and where you bought it. If possible, you can help your case by telling lottery officials the numbers you played. Finally, it’ll also help if you remember what other items you bought along with the ticket.

Here’s the catch: an appeal is not a 100% guarantee that you’ll get your winnings.

Do Appeals Work?

Of course, there have been successful appeals.

Kathryn Jones - lost her winning lottery ticket

In 2012, for example, there was Kathryn Jones. The Toronto resident was the first ever winner to have been successfully identified by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s claims investigation process.

The winning ticket for the November 30, 2012 draw was bought at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Ontario, Canada. The winner would have been CAD$50 million richer.

The only problem? No one came to claim the prize!

Once word got out that nobody had claimed the jackpot, people bombarded the Ontario Lottery with claims. Funnily enough, Kathryn Jones was never one of those people. She didn’t know she’d won! Jones had lost her ticket and forgotten about it.

Kathryn Jones receiving her prize

With 435 claims on their plate, Ontario Lottery officials decided to hunt for the rightful winner. Their search ultimately led to Kathryn Jones in 2013—but that was only the beginning.

Having identified a possible winner, the Ontario Lottery now needed to conduct a thorough verification process. They interviewed Jones, dug up credit card transactions, and even reviewed surveillance footage from the store!

Finally, in January of 2013, Kathryn Jones received her prize.


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How Do You Keep Your Lottery Tickets Safe?

Not everybody will have Kathryn Jones’ luck, though. And not all lotteries will exert as much effort as the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation!

Prevention remains your best bet. If you don’t want to chance a lengthy appeals process, follow these tips to secure your ticket:

  • Put your ticket somewhere it won’t easily get lost, like a folder, box, or even a safe
  • Don’t keep your ticket in your pocket for long periods of time
  • Sign the back of your ticket as soon as you get it

Careful storage protects your tickets from severe damage. The rules vary from lottery to lottery, but in most cases, you probably can’t claim your winnings with a torn and drenched ticket that took a spin in your pants pocket on laundry day.

As for signing the back of your tickets, this helps prove that you own the tickets! Your signature won’t guarantee that you’ll get a lost ticket back, but it will keep strangers from cashing in on your loss. Otherwise, anyone can just pick up your unsigned ticket, sign it themselves, and laugh all the way to the bank!

$ 262,000,000
Next Drawing
$ 284,000,000
Next Drawing


    1. Hi, Rakia. Your lottery operator might still be able to do something with that barcode! It’s best to stop by their closest office and ask.

  1. what happens if I lost my lottery ticket or it was stolen but, i have proof of purchase and also pictures of it on my phone, plus its signed on the back with name, address and number. ???

    1. Hey Luis, that depends on your lottery operator! Like we said, there are no guarantees. But you seem to have more than enough evidence for an appeal if you decide to file one.

  2. Hey I lost my mega millions ticket and the guy cashier took my information and finger print. Now I’m curious cause I purchased an ticket at deptford liquor store mega millions at that. Thanks

    1. Hey, Mia! That’s odd. You shouldn’t need to hand over information like your fingerprints. It’s best to go straight to your state lottery commission’s office and talk to officials there about your missing ticket. Hope that helps!

  3. I had a casino 8 scratch off ticket and it was a winner over 120,000 and should my brother put it up then went home as soon as I got home I was so happy with tears so I immediately wanted to show my roommate but was disappointed cause it was there I know he stole it his name is Richard Albert Diaz but goes by Ricky Diaz and my name is Stacy Diaz l

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