State Lottery says there's $5M in unclaimed winnings

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Arizona State Lottery officials tell 3TV there is about $5 million in unclaimed winnings for the 2014 fiscal year.

"I want it. Give it to me! Unfortunately, it's not mine," said Kathleen Heffernan.

Right now, there is a lucky lotto winner holding onto a $3 million "The Pick" ticket that was purchased at a Circle K on Thunderbird Road near 40th Street.

That person has yet to come forward, and there's at least one group in particular who hopes it stays that way.

"We hope that they tucked that in their sock drawer and forgot about it," said Caroline Lautt-Owens, director of Dependent Children's Services Division

Her division oversees CASA of Arizona, a volunteer program which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

"Our volunteers are appointed by the juvenile court judges to advocate for children who have been removed from home due to abuse and neglect," Lautt-Owens said.

CASA is funded almost solely through the state's unclaimed lottery monies.

Each year they collect 30 percent of all the winnings people don't collect.

"The dollars come out and those are distributed to the counties so that we can recruit, screen and train and support volunteers to advocate for children," Lautt-Owens explained.

The lottery players 3TV talked to Friday had no idea what happened to the unclaimed cash. When our reporter told them, they were more than happy to pitch in.

"When I win $2, I am not going to claim it then. You can have my $2. It'll be good!" Heffernan said.

Karen Bach of the Arizona Lottery says the remaining portion of the unclaimed money funds the starting jackpot for '"The Pick" as well as prize payouts for their instant tickets.

The person with the outstanding $3 million has 180 days from the date of the drawing, which was Oct. 18, to claim the winnings.