Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

November 29, 2012

$550 million: Lottery officials say it could be hours before winning ticket is confirmed, days before winner steps forward

BLUEFIELD — While the drawing is over, lottery officials said it could be hours before they can confirm if a winning ticket was sold and even longer before the winner of the more than $550 million jackpot comes forward.

Randy Burnside, public relations and drawings manager for the West Virginia Lottery, said computers help lottery officials know if and when a winning ticket was sold.

“It takes several hours to know if a winning ticket has been drawn,” Burnside said. “We usually know several hours after midnight. The system is all computerized, and all states have their own computer system. Each state reports their findings to the national group, which then sees if any ticket matching the numbers was sold. That lets us know if we have a total winner or a million dollar winner and so on. The computerized system is also how we pinpoint where the winning ticket is sold. We can pinpoint the time and location of when it is sold.”

However, Burnside said there is no way of knowing how soon the winner will come forward.

“It varies on how long someone comes forward to claim the ticket,” he said. “It can be the next day; it could be several days or weeks. Sometimes, the person forgets they bought the ticket. Other times they are taking time to seek out legal representation and financial advice.”

Burnside said lottery officials ensure anyone coming forward is the true winner before releasing further information on who holds the winning ticket.

“If someone does win here in West Virginia in the jackpot amount of Match 5, we would hope to hear by them by phone before they come in,” Burnside said. “A lot of times we don’t necessarily release details regarding the purchase so we can confirm we are talking to the actual person who won. We usually take some time to release any information.”

Burnside said West Virginia lottery winners must legally disclose their name to the public, and Virginia lottery winners are also required by law to disclose their names if they win big jackpots, according to the Virginia Lottery.

“In West Virginia, it is required by law to make your name known if you claim a large lottery prize. That was something that was worked into our law from the very beginning to build public trust and make the process transparent. We want people to know that real people are winning the lottery. That is the case in most states.”

Burnside said West Virginia is already benefiting from the $550 million jackpot.

“In West Virginia we have had eight Powerball jackpot winners, which is a good number for a state our size,” he said. “The state does get taxes off of whatever is won, which is a plus. We are experiencing really strong sales right now with the large jackpot, which results in revenue to the state.”

According to Burnside, many stores that sell lottery tickets in West Virginia are also seeing an economic windfall from the massive jackpot.

“The retailer gets 1 percent of the winnings up to 100,000 as part of their commission for selling to the winning ticket,” Burnside said. “A lot of people also go into the stores and buy these tickets when the jackpot is up, and going in to buy that ticket leads them to buying other items in the store as well. This definitely has an impact on the economy.”  

— Contact Kate Coil at�

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