Last-Minute Lotto: Couple Claims $1 Million Mega-Millions Prize in North Carolina

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The nearly five-year-old lottery system has seen 16 tickets go unclaimed. That's at least four tickets a year -- remember we're not in year five, yet -- where winners have failed to claim anywhere from $100,000 to $800,000. Since N.C. began its lottery system, nine of the unclaimed tickets have been Powerball winnings and seven of the unclaimed tickets have been Carolina Cash 5 tickets. The state's largest unclaimed ticket was a Powerball ticket for $800,000 in April 2008.

How do you lose out on millions? "Maybe they very seldom buy tickets and they're not in the habit of checking their winning ticket," says Howard. "They might assume they have a losing ticket."

That could have been the case in 2002 after a future millionaire 51 times over lost out on the fortune after failing to claim a $51.7 Powerball ticket sold in Indiana.

"People that win often look forward to checking their ticket," Howard says. "But, even if someone knows, and they put it in a very safe place, they might forget where that safe place was."

ABC's Bradley Blackburn contributed to this report.

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