Colorado man forfeits lottery winnings after missing claim deadline by three days

Player who lost out urges other winners not to wait to claim winnings

By Kate Northrop

With days melding together in the midst the ongoing pandemic, it’s easy to lose track of time. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened to a Colorado player who lost all of his lottery winnings when he missed the deadline to turn the winning ticket in by just three days.

Peter Bayley bought a ticket for the Powerball draw game this past spring and won $1,500 using his own lucky numbers. He was ecstatic — he immediately knew he wanted to put the sum toward a travel budget with his wife.

However, Colorado Lottery offices closed mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19. Under normal circumstances, the state would require that players turn in their winning tickets within six months. The Lottery then put a 30-day claims extension in place for those who bought a ticket between April 6 and April 30.

Those who did not want to wait to claim their prize had to do so through alternative methods, such as mailing in their winning ticket. According to Bayley, he was one of the many players who preferred to wait as opposed to sending it through certified mail, likely due to fears that it would get lost in the mail.

“I guess I could have used certified mail, but it just didn’t feel comfortable at the time,” Bayley said.

Unfortunately for him, Bayley waited too long — he missed the deadline to turn in the ticket by just three days.

“It’s totally on me,” Bayley admitted. “It was my mistake.”

The Colorado Lottery was unwilling to change the rules for Bayley, who “thought the extension of three days would be something they could live with.” Colorado Lottery Communications Manager Meghan Dougherty explained that the Lottery maintains strict guidelines and procedures that are mandated by the state and that no exceptions can be made.

“It’s really important that we keep to the rules,” Dougherty said. “Otherwise, everybody would want to potentially change the rules.”

Dougherty also strongly advised all prospective winners to view official guidelines and rules to familiarize themselves with the claims process on the Lottery’s official website.

While Bayley lost out on $1,500 worth of winnings, state programs will see it as a win. Unclaimed lottery winnings are sent to various state organizations, agencies, and programs with a heavy emphasis on conservation, such as Great Outdoors Colorado, The Conservation Trust Fund, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the Colorado Department of Education.

While Bayley acknowledges that the winnings he lost out on will benefit the community, he urges players to avoid putting themselves in his shoes by claiming prizes right away.

“Go ahead: call, email, make an appointment and get that money in your hands as soon as possible so you don’t end up like this,” he implored.

Colorado winners can claim winnings worth less than $600 at any one of 3,200 official Lottery retailer locations, while prizes of $600 or more can be claimed at the Lottery office by appointment only.

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