OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Mega Millions ticket worth $1.337 billion was sold in Illinois over month ago, but that ticket remains unclaimed. If it stays unclaimed, what happens to that prize money, and does Oklahoma receive any of it?

KFOR reached out to the Oklahoma Lottery Commission Thursday, and Abby Morgan, Director of Marketing and Product Development for the Oklahoma Lottery Commission, gave us insight into what happens to Oklahoma’s portion of that money.

Illinois gives lottery ticket winners a year from the date of the drawing to claim their winnings; Oklahoma gives 180 days to claim prizes for winning tickets purchased in the state.

The purchaser of the $1.337 billion prize still has over 330 days left to claim the massive winnings.

If that mega-prize goes unclaimed, the percentage of Oklahoma sales that went into the jackpot will return to the Sooner State, according to Morgan.

But then what?

Morgan says the money will go back into Lottery Commission prizes and promotions.

“So, we essentially give the money back to our players through prizes and future winning tickets and games,” Morgan said. “We want it to go back to Oklahomans so they have a better lottery experience and win more.”

The Oklahoma Lottery Commission could potentially hold one big promotion with the prize being Oklahoma’s portion of the $1.337 billion jackpot, if that money is never claimed, according to Morgan.

“This is unique, that prize was so huge,” Morgan said. “If they gave us a huge chunk we could do one big promotion to give it back to somebody. We would decide what we could do.”

Morgan said the Oklahoma Lottery Commission does not have the figure for Oklahoma’s percentage of ticket sales that went into the $1.337 billion prize. She said the commission does not receive information on how much each state sold.

Morgan said scratch tickets outsell Mega Millions and Powerball lottery tickets, but the ticket sales for last month’s historic drawing were enormous.

“Our numbers were astronomically climbing, as they were in all states,” she said. “That jackpot was huge, and everybody saw just huge sales numbers.”

Oklahoma’s lottery sales benefit the states educational system.

“The profits we make off all of our games, scratchers, tickets goes back to Oklahoma education,” Morgan said. “The money we collect from sales every quarter we give a deposit to the State Treasury, and they start distributing that money [to Oklahoma education].”

The below chart shows how much money Oklahoma education received from the state’s lottery each fiscal year since 2017:

Photo goes with story
A chart showing how much money the state’s lottery has contributed to education in Oklahoma. Image from Oklahoma Lottery Commission.

“The legislature appropriates the lottery funding to us, and we send it out to the school districts according to the school funding formula,” said Rob Crissinger, Executive Director of Communications for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. “The formula is based on a weighted student count per district.”

The Lottery Commission also uses unclaimed money to help mental health treatment efforts in the state, giving the first $750,000 of unclaimed prize money to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health, each year.

“They operate programs that help people with gambling issues,” Morgan said.