Customers know the Sunoco Express at 2655 N. Orange Blossom Trail in Kissimmee as a lucky store, but even the owner says someone is pushing it by letting their lottery jackpot go unclaimed.
Someone bought a Florida Lottery ticket ahead of the June 14 drawing that is now worth $44 million. However, the winner has until midnight, December 11 to turn that ticket in – or the money slips through their fingers.
“I was just astonished,” Nick Khela said, when he found out he sold a winner. “Such a large amount to be won in our store. I was really pleased. So, really excited that somebody was going to claim this any day.”
Khela put up signs and began asking customers to check their tickets. He’s still holding onto hope the winner will be found.
If not, it would become Osceola County’s first ever unclaimed jackpot and the fourth largest in Florida history. The record for expired winnings is held by a 1999 ticket that was valued at $66 million – or $122 million in today’s dollars.
The last unclaimed jackpot in Central Florida happened in Seminole County in 2001.
If the ticket does expire, the money will mostly be sent to the state’s education trust fund, while a portion will go back into the pool for future drawings or promotions.
Khela’s store, in the middle of heavy renovations, will still get its bonus.
“It’d be nice if somebody comes forward,” he said. “It’s a huge amount of money. It’s going to be life changing for this person and we just want to celebrate with this person.”
Other customers of his, meanwhile, are left to check their tickets for the ninth time, joke about how their lives would change and how they’d happily help alleviate the winner’s new burden.
“Whoever it is out there, man… claim it!” car dealer Raul Colón said. “I’m right next door. If you want to give me something, I appreciate it.”