Deadline to claim $88.6m California lotto prize passes

SAN FRANCISCO - A deadline to claim a US$63 million (S$88.6 million) lottery prize from a ticket sold last year in Southern California passed on Thursday evening without anyone stepping forward with a valid slip, officials said, although a man has sued saying his ticket is the winner.

The prize would set the record as the largest unclaimed California lottery jackpot, surpassing the US$28.5 million for a ticket sold in September 2003.

The winning SuperLotto Plus ticket was sold last August at a 7-Eleven convenience store in the Los Angeles community of Chatsworth. "No one's coming forward that has a winning ticket that has all the numbers on it that's not damaged," lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said.

On Wednesday, Brandy Milliner filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court saying he was the holder of the winning ticket. The complaint said he furnished the ticket in question to the lottery commission, which initially responded with a congratulatory letter.

But the commission wrote back in January, saying the ticket was "too damaged to be reconstructed" and as such could not be processed as the winning claim, according to the lawsuit. Milliner is suing for breach of contract and seeking the US$63 million prize as well as legal fees.

Lottery spokesman Russ Lopez declined comment on the lawsuit as a pending legal matter, but added: "Any time you have an unclaimed prize, people are going to come out of the woodwork and claim it's their money. We don't usually get it to this level, but it is US$63 million."

The unclaimed lottery money will be diverted to the state's public school system if a determination is made after the legal battle that Milliner does not have a valid claim, Traverso said.

The winner would stand to receive nearly US$40 million before federal taxes if opting for the winnings in a lump-sum payout, or the full US$63 million paid out in installments over 30 years.