Lottery winner can't cash in on winnings

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A Valley man says he has $350 in lottery winnings but cannot get the lottery to pay up.

Technically, he's owed the money or, he "was" owed the money, all because he waited a little too long to cash in his winnings.

Jeff Blewitt is retired so to pass the time he devotes his days to building a pretty impressive card collection. "I collect sports cards, baseball, basketball, football, and hockey."

But when Jeff isn't collecting sports cards he's collecting other types of cards, or tickets that is, lottery tickets. A hobby Jeff says he spends quite a bit on.

"I probably spend on average $20 per day on tickets, between scratchers and Powerball."

Jeff says he normally tucks away his small winnings, ticket by ticket and hangs on to them until he can cash them.
"It was a way for me to save and not spend my winning tickets so I could eventually cash them in and use the winnings towards my trip."

Jeff accumulated $2,000 in winning tickets but out of that amount $350 would never make it to the inside of Jeff’s wallet because when he went to cash them in, he was told this: "They couldn't pay me on it because of the expiration date."

That's right. Each lottery game has an expiration date, usually 180 days.

Jeff Hatch-Miller is with the Arizona Lottery and says consumers have to pay attention because all games do expire. "On the back it says ticket expiration date 180-days from the winning draw date."

Lottery officials say expired winnings are not wasted. Instead, they're used in other ways mandated by state lawmakers. "What they tell me to do is as soon as the 180-days have passed is to transfer that money. Thirty percent to kids locked up in the court system and 70 percent goes to players in the next game," says Hatch-Miller.

As for Jeff Blewitt, even he admits his last name says it all, he blew it by not paying attention to the expiration dates. He says, "The lesson learned here is be aware of when your lottery ticket expires."

The expiration date on some games are a little different. Sometimes it is 180 days from the date of purchase, other times it is 180 days once the game ends. Regardless, if you have a winner, cash it in as soon as you can.