By Laura Ly
(CNN) — The mystery winner of a New York lottery ticket worth $1 million has until Sunday to claim the prize, or the money will return to a pool for future winners, according to state lottery officials.
The winning lottery ticket was purchased at the Playland Market in Rye on August 25, 2012. According to New York Gaming Commission rules, winners have up to one year to claim their prize. New York Lottery officials have been urging players to check their tickets for the winning numbers: 1-6-7-20-49, Powerball 23, and come forward before the ticket expires.
“We’re hopeful the lucky winner has already signed the ticket and is making plans to claim it before it’s too late,” said Gardner Gurney, acting director of the Division of the Lottery.
The New York Gaming Commission uses all means possible to get the word out when it is presented with an unclaimed prize, including news media and social media, said Christy Calicchia, spokesperson for the commission.
To claim the money, the winner must present the ticket at any one of New York’s seven customer service centers during business hours. Since the one-year anniversary of the ticket’s purchase falls on a Sunday, the winner would technically need to have presented the ticket by the close of business Friday, said Calicchia.
It is unclear how the situation would be handled if the ticket were to be turned in on Monday, she said.
Lottery winners may also turn in winning tickets by mail. As long as the ticket is postmarked by August 25, it will be deemed valid. The gaming commission will be monitoring incoming mail to see if the ticket turns up, Calicchia said.
New York state has seen several prizes go unclaimed, the largest of which was drawn more than a decade ago.
In 2002, the owner of a winning ticket sold in Brooklyn never came forward to collect the $68 million prize. It remains the highest jackpot to go unclaimed in New York Lottery history. The next year, a ticket in Brooklyn went unclaimed again, this time for a jackpot of $46 million.
Winnings can go unclaimed for a variety of reasons, Calicchia said, noting sometimes tickets or lost or become unreadable after being left in a pocket and washed. She said many tickets are unclaimed because winners don’t notice they scored with smaller, tiered prizes in lottery jackpots.
“Most people don’t realize that there is more than one prize in the lottery drawing,” she said.
Rye is in Westchester County and is about 30 miles north of New York City.
The New York Gaming Commission regulates all aspects of gaming and gambling activity in New York state, including horse racing, charitable gaming and the state lottery.
CNN’s Deanna Hackney contributed to this report.
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