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November 24, 2020

SE Iowa Man Claims Lottery Prize Of $25,000 A Year For Life

A southeast Iowa man admits it took him a few days to realize he’d won a lottery prize of $25,000 a year for life, and he had the winning ticket in his pocket the entire time.

Craig Walker of Bloomfield claimed his big prize in the Lucky for Life game yesterday at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive. He said that a few days after the drawing when he won, he noticed an announcement on the lottery’s website that someone in southeast Iowa was the winner. So he started checking his tickets and realized it was him!

Craig said word spread quickly about his news and people in his area are happy that someone local won.

Craig’s Lucky for Life ticket that matched the first five numbers but missed the Lucky Ball in the Nov. 16 drawing to win the game’s second prize of $25,000 a year for life. He said he bought his easy-pick ticket the day before the drawing when he stopped for a sandwich at a local convenience store.

The winning numbers in that night’s Lucky for Life drawing were: 3-8-16-38-44 and Lucky Ball 15. J’s One Stop in Bloomfield will receive a $500 bonus from the lottery for selling the winning ticket.

There is a lump-sum option at the game’s top two prize levels for players who prefer that approach rather than lifetime annuity payments. Craig chose to receive his prize in its lump-sum amount of $390,000. He says it’s definitely going to help him with retirement!

November 23, 2020

Just One Week Left For Unclaimed $100,000 Prize In Des Moines

It’s down-to-the-wire time for a big unclaimed prize in the Des Moines area.

Check your wallet, check on top of the sun visor in your car, check that stack of stuff that may have piled up at home to be sure you don’t have a ticket winning a $100,000 Powerball prize that’s about to expire. We’re hoping we can jog someone’s memory in time so the prize can be claimed!

The $100,000 prize was won in the Powerball drawing on Nov. 27, 2019, with a ticket purchased at the Quik Trip, 4021 Fleur Drive in Des Moines. The ticket initially won a $50,000 prize that night by matching the first five numbers but missing the Powerball. But whoever purchased the ticket also added the Power Play® option to the play, which multiplied the prize to $100,000.

The winning numbers that night were: 15-26-37-53-55 and Powerball 21. The Power Play number was 2.

The winner or winners have until the close of business at 4 p.m. next Monday (Nov. 30) to claim the $100,000 prize at one of the Iowa Lottery’s regional offices. Please remember that Iowa Lottery offices will be closed Wednesday-Friday this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. If you think you’ve won this prize and have questions before coming forward to claim it, give us a shout at the lottery at 515-725-7900 or [email protected]

Several other tickets winning big prizes in Iowa also remain unclaimed and will expire within the next few months if the winner(s) don’t come forward in time. Click here to go to the Unclaimed Prizes page on our website so you can see that entire list.

And remember that here in Iowa, the money from unclaimed prizes that expire without being claimed goes into the lottery’s prize pools for future games and promotions, so it will be used to pay prizes, just not those prizes that have expired.

November 17, 2020

Ticket Purchased In SE Iowa Wins Prize Of $25,000 A Year For Life

Someone who bought a lottery ticket at a southeast Iowa convenience store has won a prize of $25,000 a year for life in the Lucky for Life game.

A Bloomfield ticket matched the first five numbers but missed the Lucky Ball in last night’s drawing to win Lucky for Life’s second prize of $25,000 a year for life. The winning ticket was purchased at J’s One Stop, 202 Weaver Road in Bloomfield.

This is Iowa’s 10th big winner in the game since it debuted in January 2016 in our state. Lucky for Life is a $2 game with drawings twice a week, at 9:38 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. The game’s top two prize levels are described as “lasting as long as you do,” meaning that they are truly for life. The minimum guaranteed payout for those two prize levels is 20 years, and there is a lump-sum option for players who prefer that rather than lifetime annuity payments.

The winning numbers in last night’s Lucky for Life drawing were: 3-8-16-38-44 and Lucky Ball 15. J’s One Stop will receive a $500 bonus from the lottery for selling the winning ticket.

This prize must be claimed at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive. During the current COVID-19 emergency, prize claims are being handled by appointment at the lottery, so the winner or winners of the Bloomfield prize can call 515-725-7900 to schedule a claim. Full details are available on the lottery’s website here.

There is plenty of time for this prize to be claimed: Players in Lucky for Life have up to 365 days from the date of the drawing to claim prizes won in Iowa.

November 16, 2020

Pick 3/Pick 4 Question: Is It OK When More Prizes Are Won With Identical Numbers?

Here is the answer to a player’s question about the drawing results in our Pick 3 and Pick 4 games, and specifically, whether something is wrong because more prizes are often won with numbers that are all the same, such as 3-3-3 or 7-7-7-7. In reality, more people win prizes when those numbers are selected in a Pick 3 or Pick 4 drawing because more people play those numbers in the games. Here’s the back story:

In Pick 3 and Pick 4, many players choose their own numbers rather than letting the lottery terminal randomly select the numbers on their tickets. The players who choose their own numbers are loyal to them and often make identical selections. I don’t know if they just like the symmetry of 1-1-1 or 5-5-5-5, but combinations of identical numbers are very popular.

And, when those combinations are then selected as the winning numbers in a drawing, there are a lot of winners simply because so many people have played them.

Another reason that people may choose to play identical numbers is that those are straight plays, which have the biggest payouts in Pick 3 and Pick 4. By making a straight bet, the player wins a prize only if the numbers they selected match the winning numbers in the exact order drawn. It’s harder to win on a straight bet than by matching the winning numbers in any order drawn (which is known as a box play), so the odds of winning are longer and the prizes that can be won with straight plays are bigger.

There of course are players who make plays with numbers that aren’t identical, and those combinations do win in Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings as well. But overall, when the winning numbers in the games’ drawings are identical, you will often see more winners.

November 13, 2020

Iowa Woman Finds Lottery Ticket She Misplaced In Her Car, Wins $10,000 Prize

This truly is a story of the one that almost got away! A Des Moines woman claimed a $10,000 prize this week from a lottery ticket she left in her car and forgot about for nearly three months.

I’ve included a photo here of Alyssa Frideres and her winning Mega Millions® ticket. Alyssa won her prize in that game’s drawing back on Aug. 18 when she matched four of the white balls and the Mega Ball®. But she said that after she bought her ticket, it ended up in the glove compartment of her car. All these months later, Alyssa said she recently had trouble with her tires, so she got out the owner’s manual for her car and the ticket had ended up in it.

She checked her numbers on the Iowa Lottery’s website and was shocked to discover she’d won such a big prize. Just to be sure, she had a neighbor double-check her work, and it turns out she was right! Alyssa admitted she was still kind of shaky as she claimed her prize.

In keeping with the tires theme, Alyssa said she plans to use part of her winnings to buy tires for her daughter and grandson’s vehicles, then she’ll save the rest of her winnings. Sounds like a plan.

Congratulations, Alyssa, and thank you for lifting our spirits with your story!

October 30, 2020

Player Question: Do I Need To Keep My Ticket After I Enter It In the Promotion?

We’ve gotten the same question from a few different players about our “Winner Wonderland” promotion, so I’ll answer it here to give the details to everyone. And, while the question is specifically about the holiday promotion, the specifics apply to any ticket you’ve entered into a promotion through your VIP Club account.

The question is pretty basic: Do I need to keep my ticket after I enter it into the promotion? As in, will I need to present that ticket to claim any prize I might win in the promotion?

The short answer is no, you don’t need to keep the ticket. Here’s the backstory: Entering an eligible ticket into one of our promotions meets the requirement of presenting that ticket to the lottery. So, you do not need to keep the ticket after entering it to claim a prize through the promotion. That detail is spelled out in the rules for the Winner Wonderland promotion, but I’m happy to provide the info. here as well.

Only nonwinning scratch tickets from this year’s eligible holiday-themed games can be entered into Winner Wonderland, but if you ever enter one of our promotions that involves tickets in lotto or InstaPlay games, be sure to check the results of the tickets themselves before you discard them. If you win a cash prize on the ticket itself rather than in the promotion, you would need to present the ticket to the lottery to claim that prize.

Good luck on your Winner Wonderland entries, and thank you for playing!

October 27, 2020

Marion Man Wins $150,000 Powerball Prize

A Marion man has claimed a $150,000 Powerball® prize today with a ticket he purchased at a Cedar Rapids supermarket. To give you a look at a ticket winning a big prize, I’ve included a picture here of that lucky slip of paper.

As you can see, Jerome Thurmon’s ticket came within one number of having at least a share of the $91.6 million jackpot in last Wednesday’s Powerball drawing (Oct. 21). One of the plays on Jerome’s easy-pick ticket matched four of the first five numbers and the Powerball to initially win a $50,000 prize. But because he also added the Power Play® option to his ticket, his prize was multiplied to $150,000.

The winning numbers in the Oct. 21 drawing were: 1-3-13-44-56 and Powerball 26. The Power Play number was 3. The jackpot has continued to climb since then and now stands at an estimated $116 million annuity, $89.5 million cash option, for tomorrow night’s drawing.

Jerome bought his winning ticket at the store where he works, the Hy-Vee at 1556 First Ave. NE in Cedar Rapids. Hy-Vee will receive a $150 bonus from the Iowa Lottery for selling the $150,000-winning ticket at one of its stores.

October 22, 2020

Ticket Purchased In Cedar Rapids Wins $150,000 Powerball Prize

Someone who bought a Powerball® ticket in Cedar Rapids won a $150,000 prize in last night’s drawing.

The $150,000-winning ticket was purchased at the Hy-Vee supermarket at 1556 First Ave. NE in Cedar Rapids. The ticket came within one number of having at least a share of last night’s $91.6 million jackpot.

The Cedar Rapids ticket matched four of the first five numbers and the Powerball to initially win a $50,000 prize. But whoever bought the winning ticket also added the Power Play® option to the purchase, which multiplied the prize to $150,000.

Last night’s winning numbers were: 1-3-13-44-56 and Powerball 26. The Power Play number was 3. No one matched all six numbers to win the jackpot, so the big prize climbs to an estimated $102 million annuity ($80.7 million cash option) for Saturday.

Hy-Vee will receive a $150 bonus from the Iowa Lottery for selling the $150,000-winning ticket at one of its stores.

Prizes of $150,000 can be claimed at any of the Iowa Lottery’s regional offices, which are open Monday through Friday and currently offer prize claims by appointment. To make an appointment, the winner or winners of the Cedar Rapids prize should call the lottery at 319-395-9313 or 515-725-7900.

October 15, 2020

Player Comment: Hey, Your Crossword Games Don’t Follow The Rules …

A woman who recently emailed us pointed out that our Crossword scratch games don’t follow the same rules as traditional Crossword games. We let her know that’s correct, and if they did, players could end up missing out on a prize. Here’s why.

It appears that the woman had seen a list of guidelines online for crossword puzzle creators. But our Crossword scratch games have a purposefully different play style.

In a traditional crossword puzzle, all the spaces are blank, and the player uses the clues given to fill in the words that they think are correct and fit the spaces provided. But a word they choose may or may not be the correct answer within the overall puzzle.

In our Crossword scratch tickets, the words are already provided in the play area. As the player, you scratch off only those letters found in the “YOUR LETTERS” section of the play area. If the selection provided in “YOUR LETTERS” allows you to uncover a certain number of words on your Crossword ticket, you win a prize as indicated on the ticket.

If our Crossword tickets had only blank spaces on them, you as the player could end up filling in an incorrect word, which ultimately could cause you to miss out on a prize.

The rules governing our scratch games are published on our website. To see the rules for a specific Crossword scratch game, visit the scratch games page on our site and click on the game you want to play. When that individual game loads, you’ll see a blue link to the official game rules for it.

October 06, 2020

BIG Start To The Week! Prizes Of $276,296 And $300,000 Claimed On Same Day

Maybe Mondays aren’t so bad after all! Our week started out with a definite rush as two players both claimed big prizes within about an hour of each other.

First up was Marissa Besler of Monticello, who claimed one of the top prizes in our “Colossal Crossword” scratch game. Her $300,000 win was quickly followed by Don Burd of Hiawatha, who claimed a jackpot of $276,296 in the “Extreme Green Progressive” InstaPlay game. That’s the biggest prize ever won in an InstaPlay game since the product debuted four years ago in Iowa!

The same theme runs through Marissa and Don’s stories: Disbelief.

Marissa is 34 and an occupational therapist assistant. She said she was shocked when she realized she’d won $300,000 on a lottery ticket she scratched while waiting on a load of laundry. She said she wandered around her house for a while to catch her breath, then downloaded the Iowa Lottery app on her phone so she could scan her ticket, which she bought at Great Pastimes in Monticello. The app verified her win and she said she was in even more disbelief!

Marissa has some real-world plans for her winnings: She said that having no mortgage or a car payment will be a huge weight off her shoulders.

In Don’s case, it was his wife who initially couldn’t believe he’d won a giant InstaPlay prize. Don said he bought a handful of tickets in the Extreme Green Progressive game on Sunday and realized that one of them had won the game’s jackpot, which had climbed to $276,296. He said he called his wife, Shawnee, right away to share the news. He told her he’d hit the game’s jackpot and then said how much it was. He said she really didn’t believe him, but it was definitely real!

Burd, 56, who owns the Otter Creek Country Store in Robins where bought his winning ticket, said he’s still figuring out exactly what he’ll do with his winnings. But he’ll definitely continue to help a good cause in his area. Burd donates the fuel needed by his local fire department to help support its critical work.

Congratulations, Marissa and Don! Thanks for helping our week get off to a great start. Woo-hoo, indeed!

October 05, 2020

‘Winner Wonderland’ Promotion Has Started Today, With $640,000 In Prizes

The biggest prize pool ever offered in one of our holiday promotions is up for grabs in our “Winner Wonderland®” promotion that just opened for entries today.

The promotion features 181 cash prizes totaling $640,000, including a grand prize of $250,000. We’re applying the “max bet” concept in the promotion, meaning that the size of the prize players can win increases along with the purchase price of the scratch ticket they’ve entered.

Players could start making entries in Winner Wonderland at 9 a.m. today, and the promotion runs through early January, with its final drawing date on Jan. 7.

Players can enter the promotion using non-winning tickets in the 13 holiday-themed scratch tickets we’ll have available this year. Tickets in six of those games started sales last week, and they’ll be followed by five more on Oct. 5 and the final two on Nov. 2.

In each of the promotion’s three initial drawings, 60 prizes will be awarded: 20 prizes of $500 from among the $1 and $2 entries; 20 prizes of $1,000 from among the $3 and $5 entries; and 20 prizes of $5,000 from among the $10 and $20 entries.

The initial drawings will be on Nov. 5, Dec. 3 and Jan. 7, with the $250,000 grand-prize drawing also on Jan. 7.

Entries will not carry over from one drawing to the next, except for the grand-prize drawing.
All entries submitted over the course of the promotion that are not selected as a winner in one of the initial drawings will automatically be eligible for the grand-prize drawing.

October 04, 2020

Ticket Purchased In Eastern Iowa Wins Biggest InstaPlay Jackpot Yet

Someone who bought an InstaPlay ticket in Linn County has won the largest jackpot to date in the games since they began being sold in Iowa nearly four years ago.

A ticket purchased at the Otter Creek Country Store, 3445 County Home Road in Robins, has won a jackpot of $276,296 in the Extreme Green Progressive InstaPlay game. That’s the largest jackpot ever won in an InstaPlay game.

A prize of that size has to be claimed at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive, where prize claims are currently being handled by appointment due to COVID-19. If the winner or winners have questions before coming forward to claim the prize, they’re welcome to reach out to us at the lottery at 515-725-7900 or by email at [email protected]

The Robins jackpot is a big jump up from the previous record jackpot in an InstaPlay game. That prize – $173,725 in the JACKPOT PARTY® Progressive InstaPlay game – was won in July 2018 by a central Iowa man. Nick Keeling of Norwalk claimed that prize with a ticket he bought at an Indianola gas station.

Extreme Green Progressive is a $20 InstaPlay game. Its jackpot starts at starts at $20,000 and grows with each ticket sold statewide in the game. The game’s jackpot had been growing since late July, when it was won with a ticket purchased in Clear Lake.

The amount of the starting jackpot in our InstaPlay progressive games varies by game and price point. As you might anticipate, higher price-point games have a higher starting jackpot amount and those jackpots grow more quickly. Back in May, I blogged about how the progressive jackpot amounts are determined, so feel free to check out those details if you’ve wondered the same thing.

October 01, 2020

We’re Moving Prize Claims Back Inside Our Offices

As we continue to safely find our way forward during this COVID-19 emergency, we’re making a change starting today in the way prizes can be claimed at the Iowa Lottery’s offices. After a summer of curbside prize claims outside, we’re bringing prize claims back inside our offices by appointment, with some restrictions that apply.

The video above walks you through the process so you’ll know what to expect if you come to see us to claim an Iowa Lottery prize in person. But please remember that we also have other prize-claim options available, understanding that some folks may not feel comfortable with in-person appointments right now. You can continue to mail or ship tickets to us in most instances, and you also have the option of using the secure dropbox at lottery headquarters in Clive.

To make a prize-claim appointment, please call the lottery office where you want to claim your prize to schedule a time and receive other details, including the documentation you’ll need to have with you. Here are our telephone numbers:

Clive: 515-725-7900
Cedar Rapids: 319-395-9313
Mason City: 641-424-6011
Storm Lake: 712-732-6662

If you’re claiming a prize on behalf of a group or have friends or family coming with you, please know that to help maintain social distancing, only the person claiming the prize will be allowed inside the lottery office.

September 25, 2020

‘What Are You Racing Around For?’ Story County Man Wins $100,000 Prize

Here’s some good energy to send us into the weekend, courtesy of a central Iowa man’s reaction(s) after realizing he’d won a $100,000 prize.

Taybor Johnson of Nevada claimed his prize just a little while after scratching off his winning ticket, and admits he was freaking out. Taybor, who is 24, said it all started when he stopped at a convenience store in Ames on his lunch hour near the car dealership where he works.

Rather than getting cash for a $50 winning ticket he was redeeming, he decided to use his winnings to buy five tickets in the $10 “Xtreme Winnings” game.

While he was playing those tickets, he initially thought he’d won $10,000 on one of them until he checked it again. He was overwhelmed when he realized it was actually $100,000.

Taybor says the feeling is like if you’re 5, and it’s Christmas morning, and you’re pretty sure your parents bought you a Nintendo 64!

When he got back to work that day, a co-worker apparently noticed the steel grip that Taybor had on the lottery ticket in his hand. He said his co-worker asked why he was racing around, and wondered if he’d won $100,000. Taybor was able to tell him that he had indeed just won that amount.

He said he told his sales manager and the whole place was freaking out. Taybor calls it the coolest thing ever.

Congratulations, Taybor! We hope the good feelings kept going for you the whole week! Thank you for sharing your joy with the rest of us.

September 17, 2020

Player Question: Why Is There A Sales Cut-Off Before A Drawing?

A player who emailed us with questions about our lotto drawings unfortunately had some conspiracy theories to share as well, so I’m addressing those here in case the same rumor has made it way to you.

The player wondered why there is a sales cut-off time before the drawings in games like Powerball® and Mega Millions®. The player said he wants people to be able to buy tickets right up until the time of the drawing, arguing that doing so would eliminate the rumored possibility he’s heard that drawing officials sometimes spray a substance on the drawing balls used in lottery drawings to keep certain numbers from being selected.

That last part isn’t true, and the sales cut-off times in the games are there for a reason. Here’s the back story:

Sales cut-off times are one of the security processes that lotteries use to ensure that everything is ready to go for a drawing. With millions – and sometimes billions – of dollars involved in our drawings, it’s obviously important that mistakes are avoided!

Before a drawing can be held, all the lotteries in that game have to verify that their sales figures balance and all plays are recorded in the system. It’s a meticulous process, and we know it’s what the public expects.

The good news is that as computer speeds and technology have improved through the years, it now requires much less time to accomplish that work. So today, our sales cut-off times here in Iowa are an hour or less before our drawings. Years ago, the sales cut-off times were often two hours before the drawing, but we’ve been able to reduce that. And we hope it’s a convenience for our players and retailers.

I would imagine there will always be some time required for balancing and verification before a drawing can happen, but perhaps in the future, the time involved can be even shorter than it is today.

The exact sales cut-off times vary from state to state, depending upon the requirements in that particular state. Check your state lottery’s website for the information that applies in your area.

And when it comes to the drawings themselves, there are multiple layers of security involved.

For example, the machines and sets of numbered balls used in the drawings are kept in double-locked and sealed vaults, and are only taken out when the drawing manager, security officer, and independent auditor are all present.

And those aren’t ping-pong balls in the machines. The drawing balls are actually made of rubber and have to meet exact specifications through testing, weighing and measuring.

Multiple sets of balls are available for the drawings along with multiple sets of machines. The exact machines and numbered balls used in each drawing are randomly selected and everything that happens with them once they’re out of the vault is recorded on audio and video.

There also are testing procedures leading up to each drawing, with the entire process carried out under the supervision of an auditor and security officials.

The facts behind the fun.

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