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PA Lottery Fund — and programs for seniors — get a boost from unclaimed Mega Millions winnings

A display holds Mega Million lottery ticket wagering cards.
Charles Krupa
A display holds Mega Million lottery ticket wagering cards at Ted's State Line Mobil station, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Methuen, Mass.

Pennsylvania’s Lottery Fund got an unexpected $678,000 boost last month, according to state Treasury officials.

The windfall’s source? A roughly $36 million Mega Millions jackpot last year that was never claimed by its winner.

Someone bought the lucky ticket in Jacksonville, Florida, but nobody ever came forward to claim the prize. Mega Millions rules say all of the money goes back to the participating states and is allocated based on how many tickets for that drawing were purchased in each state.

Pennsylvania received its share last month, said state Treasurer Stacy Garrity. Lottery officials confirmed the payment.

Such a large unclaimed prize from a multistate lottery such as the Mega Millions or Powerball that results in funds coming back to the state is unusual, and the last time it happened was more than five years ago, Garrity said.

It’s unclear why no winner came forward.

“I'm assuming maybe they didn't check their ticket, or maybe they lost their ticket. Or probably never realized that they won,” Garrity said.

Roughly $18 million in unclaimed lottery prizes from the Pennsylvania Lottery goes back to the Lottery Fund annually, she said.

From the Lottery Fund, the money can be used to — as they say — benefit older Pennsylvanians. Lottery funds support local Area Agencies on Aging, meals served at senior centers or delivered to home-bound seniors, low-cost prescription assistance through the PACE and PACENET programs, free and reduced-fare transportation, property tax and rent rebates and other senior services.

“To put it into perspective, that's like 678 property tax / rent rebates that will go a long way to help, you know, our elderly population that can really use it,” Garrity said.

Kate Giammarise focuses her reporting on poverty, social services and affordable housing. Before joining WESA, she covered those topics for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for nearly five years; prior to that, she spent several years in the paper’s Harrisburg bureau covering the legislature, governor and state government. She can be reached at or 412-697-2953.