powerball how long to claim

Watch Out, Your Powerball Winnings Can Expire

Less than an hour after the winning numbers in the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot were announced, a Chino Hills, CA convenience store claimed that it had sold a grand-prize-winning ticket. This means that someone, somewhere (most likely close to Chino Hills) is in possession of what I would unhesitatingly call one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets. So how long does the Powerball winner have to claim the jackpot?

UPDATE: This post was originally published in January 2016. As of Aug. 23, 2017, the new Powerball jackpot has hit $700 million (and if there are no winners, it’ll go to $1 billion). The Powerball will be drawn at 10:59 p.m. EST.

EARLIER: The state of California actually has its own ticket expiration policy. The state’s lottery site says that a Powerball jackpot can be claimed for up to one year from the date of the draw. Of course, unless the holder of the grand prize ticket accidentally flushes the super-expensive piece of paper down the toilet in an instance of unbelievable calamity, it likely won’t take that long before the winner comes forward to claim the largest prize in lotto history.

It turns out that California was home to a whole slew of smaller, less-lucrative golden ticket winners, as well. The state had 12 tickets that matched five out of the six drawn numbers, which means prizes for a lucky dozen people of $1 million or $50,000, depending on whether the red Powerball number was one of the five.

Winners of smaller Powerball prizes don’t have as long as jackpot winners to claim their cash before their tickets expire, though. Players have 180 days from Wednesday’s draw to claim all prizes other than the jackpot — yes, $4 is a win too!

If Americans know nothing else — like who may have won a prize in any of the other 49 states — they sure know now that the West Coast is the best coast for stepping into a 7-Eleven for a Slurpie and stepping out with a $1.5 billion ticket in your pocket. Well, it might not be the best coast at this very moment, since you could very well get trampled while trying to get through the door.

While there’s no information at this point on the jackpot ticket holder, California is not among the states that guarantee lotto winners the right to complete anonymity. This means you’ll probably be hearing some sort of name, as long as the winner doesn’t do the unthinkable and neglect to actually claim the prize. If they are clever enough to go for semi-anonymity and create a blind trust before stepping up, though, then the listing could bear a title, like California Dreamin’ LLC, instead of a name.

The winner definitely shouldn’t take too much time coming up with a badass trust name. It’s time to make like that golden ticket is a gallon of milk close to spoiling, because that baby does expire.

Less than an hour after the winning numbers in the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot were announced, a Chino Hills, CA convenience store claimed that it had sold a grand-prize-winning ticket. This means that someone, somewhere (most likely close to…

How Long After Winning The Lottery Do You Get The Money?

Not very long, as it turns out.

How long does it take to get lottery winnings?

Processing times as well as prize thresholds vary with each state, but generally speaking, the larger the prize, the longer it will take to collect your winnings.

No cause for alarm, however. You’ll get your money within a reasonable amount of time no matter what. Once you have come forward with the winning ticket, you can expect the typical scenarios:

  • Small prizes up to $600: Paid out immediately.
  • Mid-range prizes: Paid out on the same day or the next banking day.
  • Jackpot prizes: Paid out in 5 to 10 banking days.


Mega Millions

How long do you have to claim a Powerball ticket?

Depending on where you purchased your Powerball ticket, you have between 90 days to one year after the drawing to claim your winnings. Beyond that, your ticket expires and you forfeit your prize. You can also look at the back of your ticket for its expiration date.

Or check out the table below of Powerball claim periods for all territories the game is available in:

Remember that you must claim your winnings in the jurisdiction where you purchased your lottery ticket.

Free Lottery Tips Video

How long do you have to claim a Mega Millions ticket?

For Mega Millions, claim periods for each state and jurisdiction are the same as Powerball’s. The only difference is that Puerto Rico is not on the list, since the game is not available in that country.

Find out how long you have to claim your Mega Millions ticket based on your state in the table below:

If you win the lottery, how do you get the money?

How does the lottery payout work?

For most lotteries, the grand prize or jackpot is paid out to winners in a single lump sum (cash option) or over 20+ graduated payments (annuity option).

The cash option for Powerball and Mega Millions is typically equivalent to

61% of the advertised jackpot. This is the percentage of the prize pool that is allocated to funding the jackpot.

The annuity option is equivalent to 100% of the advertised jackpot, and is based on the funds in the prize pool, expected ticket sales, and current market interest rates. Annuity payments are usually paid out over 29 years, although different lotteries and jurisdictions may have varying rules.

In the event of multiple jackpot winners, the prize is divided equally between them.

Secondary prizes are usually fixed amounts, and are paid out in cash.

As for taxes, it depends on the lottery and its local laws. Generally speaking however, all lottery winnings you earn in a year can be taxed. If you want to get a more detailed look at all the math involved, or just want to perform your own calculations, please feel free to check out our lottery calculators page for specific numbers and formulas.


Mega Millions

How to Claim Lottery Winnings

The first thing you should do is make sure you’ve signed the back of your ticket.

Next, bring your ticket to the relevant lottery authority to claim your winnings. For most US lotteries, winnings up to $600 can be claimed directly from any authorized retailer. Larger prizes including the jackpot can be claimed from claim centers, district offices, or the lottery headquarters, depending on the amount. This will also require the winner to complete a claim form and provide valid forms of identification.

In many states, secondary prizes can also be claimed by mail. Check with your local lottery operator to see what your options are.

If you purchased your ticket online, chances are your prize is already in your player account. If you won a significant sum, you have to contact the lottery operator to claim your winnings.

And please remember to redeem your ticket within the time period allowed. Check the table above for Powerball and Mega Millions claim periods.

How to Claim Powerball and Mega Millions Winnings

Same steps as mentioned above, but take note of the following when claiming Powerball and Mega Millions winnings:

  • Powerball and Mega Millions jackpot prizes can be paid out in a single lump sum, or 30 graduated payments over 29 years.
  • In most jurisdictions, winners have 60 days after redeeming their ticket to choose between the lump sum or annuity option. There are some exceptions, however. In Texas for example, players must choose between the cash or annuity before paying for their lottery ticket.
  • Federal and applicable state income taxes will automatically be deducted from your winnings.

Finally, take a look at our guide on What to Do After Winning the Lottery where we’ll give you our recommendations on how to handle big lottery wins.

Also check out the following tools for calculating your winnings to help you plan ahead:

And if you haven’t purchased your lottery ticket yet, check out our article on the best lottery software to help you pick the winning numbers.

Winning the lottery comes with deadlines. In this article, find out how much time you have to redeem your ticket, how long it takes for prizes to be paid out, and some things to remember when claiming your prize.