Over 380 billion won of lottery winnings never claimed

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Over 380 billion won of lottery winnings never claimed

While it may be a dream-come-true moment for many lottery players hoping for a jackpot, more than 380 billion won ($337 million) has not been claimed by winners over the past 10 years, statistics by the finance ministry showed.

According to Rep. Park Myung-jae of the Liberty Korea Party, who released the data on Monday, 48.9 million Lotto winners did not show up to claim the money they had just won between 2008 and June this year, with the total amount of unclaimed prize money at 381.3 billion won.

Of those who did not show up to take the money, 32 people had won the top prize after getting all six numbers correct.

On average, a person who wins the top prize gets more than 1.5 billion won. The amount of money left unclaimed by the 32 top winners, who probably did not even realize they hit the jackpot, amounts to 59.9 billion won - 15.7 percent of the total.

There was one top Lotto winner who has not collected a 1.6 billion won prize this year, though he or she still has time left to claim the money as the validity period is one year.

The top prize winners that did not take the money could have brought home about 1.87 billion won each, on average, had they shown up to claim the prize.

If prizes are left unclaimed for a year the money is used by the government for public use.

The bulk of the money left untouched came from people who won the lowest prize with three out of six numbers correct, winning 5,000 won. Winners of the bottom prize amounted to 62.8 percent, or 239.5 billion won of unclaimed money.

Amid the prolonged economic stagnation, sales of Lotto tickets reached the highest level last year with 3.55 billion tickets worth 3.55 trillion won sold since it was first introduced to the country in 2002. The 2016 figure saw a 9 percent increase in sales compared to a year earlier, according to the Korea Lottery Commission.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]
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