Lost Lotto Winnings Inspire App Creator

You probably don't know it yet, but there's a chance you've won the lottery. Every year, billions of dollars in lotto winnings go to waste when people stash their tickets away and promptly forget about them--a reality so concerning that it inspired one entrepreneur to create an app to tell you if your ticket's a winner.

Brett Jacobson found out about unclaimed winnings the hard way, when he dug out some old tickets and took them to a convenience store to see if he had any winners. It turned out that he had about $200 worth--all but $51 of which had expired. Frustrated, he set to work creating Lotto Lotto, a free app that records your lotto numbers and sends you an alert if you've won anything. All you have to do is take a picture of your ticket.

"They're selling more and more lottery tickets every year," Jacobson told CNN Money. "People don't even realize there are secondary prizes."

According to CNN, a staggering $2.04 billion in lotto winnings went unclaimed in 2013. And while much of that can be chalked up to the secondary prizes Jacobson mentioned--a $4 winner here, a hundred bucks there--there are thousand- and even million-dollar tickets expiring in people's junk drawers.

Jacobson's idea is potentially a boon not only to lotto players, but also to retailers (the app says where winning tickets were purchased) and state lotteries that want to boost ticket sales. "The retailers and even the state lotteries want people to cash in secondary prizes," said Jacobson. "You're not going to take $4 and go home. You going to buy more tickets."

It's reason enough, at least, to go and see what's been sitting around in that old junk drawer.
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