Unclaimed lotto ticket worth $16 million about to expire

(CBS News) Time is running out for the winner of a Powerball jackpot and $16.6 million are at stake.  Yet, it’s not the first time someone could be passing up a fortune and Florida lottery officials are trying to scratch off the mystery.

The winning ticket was bought at the Carrollwood Market Convenient Store in suburban Tampa and its owner Nidia Tannous wonders what happened.

 “Most of customers are regulars, they come on a daily basis,” she said.

The two other winning tickets were sold in Delaware and Louisiana. In both places people claimed their prize within a month.

In Florida, winners have up to six months to come forward before that prize is forfeited. This deadline will come and go at midnight Thursday.

“We're so hopeful through this exposure that people will look at their ticket, open that candy jar, where ever they keep that ticket, in their car in their cupboard, and come in and claim it,” said Cynthia O’Connell, secretary of Florida’s Lottery.  

Lottery prizes have been forfeited before. In 2011, of the $40 billion Americans won playing the lottery nationwide, $800 million, about two percent, was never claimed.

“This is the largest unclaimed Florida Powerball jackpot in the history since we joined the game in 2009,” said O’Connell.

However, come Friday morning, much of the unclaimed money will go back to the lottery, turning one winner's lucky numbers into one big goose egg.