You Didn’t Win the Jackpot, But Your Losing Lottery Ticket Might Still Be Worth Thousands

second chance lottery

If you’re like me, you ignore the lottery most of the time. The chances of winning are way too slim, and I’d rather spend my $1 elsewhere.

However, I admit that — every so often — I get caught up in the hype and flirt with temptation.

And when I do, I don’t worry about playing lucky numbers because I go straight for the scratch-off tickets. I like knowing instantly whether giving up my $1 was a good idea or not.

But recently, my cousin was bragging about the free blender and other things she had won by entering non-winning scratch-off tickets online.

That got my attention, so I did some investigating and discovered second chance lotteries.

What are Second Chance Lotteries?

As the name suggests, they’re a second chance to win cash and prizes. Second chance drawings are available in 43 of the 44 states that hold lotteries.

Rules vary by state, but the general concept is this: If you buy lottery tickets — drawing-style or scratch-offs — for certain games, your non-winning tickets can win you prizes in random drawings.

Tickets are only eligible during certain dates and some drawings occur more frequently than others.

Cash rewards range from $500 to over $1 million. And prizes vary from NFL tickets to brand-new cars!

A Kansas woman won $25,000 in Home Depot gift cards, a Georgia man won a Kia sedan and a California woman won $500,000 — all within two weeks.

Some state lotteries provide additional ways to win.

For example, Tennessee’s lottery allows players to enter any non-winning, drawing-style ticket — including the Powerball — online to gain points.

Then, players can use those points to purchase items like watches and espresso machines.

Ohio has a similar system called MyLotto Rewards.

Why States Offer Another Chance to Win

Different lottery tickets have different top prizes for each game.

However, once the last top prize for the ticket has been claimed, a lottery ticket can no longer be sold.

With second chance drawings, states choose to set aside one of these top prizes for one final drawing after the lottery game closes.

This allows them to sell tickets for a longer period of time, bringing in more revenue to help fund games’ prize structures.

Also, winners have to pay taxes on each claimed prize, bringing states even more money.

How to Get Started With Second Chance Lotteries

First, visit your state’s lottery website to find out if it participates in second chance drawings — and what the rules are.

What you’ll want to know:

  • Which games are eligible
  • How often drawings occur
  • Entry deadlines

Of course, you’ll also need to know how to play.

Not all states have an online entry system. Wisconsin’s Super Second Chance drawing actually requires players to mail in their tickets. That’s too big a hassle for me, but maybe not for you.

If you can, also look at the odds.

Colorado’s second chance lottery provides an online list of prizes still available. It also shows the odds of winning those prizes, based on how many entries have been received.

Knowing the odds can help you better determine which games are worth your dime — and your time.

For online systems, joining is free and only takes a few minutes. To create an account, just enter your first and last name, date of birth, an email address and an account password.

Then, follow the ticket entry instructions. Be sure to use the correct information for your account — you don’t want another Jane Smith falsely claiming your earnings!

What to Do When You Win

One of the downsides to winning the lottery — even a second chance lottery — is you may not be able to do so anonymously.

Each individual state decides whether to make lottery winners’ names public. Unfortunately, only five states grant winners anonymity, The Washington Post reports. And sometimes, that fame and fortune has its downsides.

Instead, protect yourself, and join the list of past lottery winners who’ve invested their money wisely for a shot at a happy ending.

Sign your winning ticket before you go to cash it in. Some experts even suggest you consult with a tax professional right after you discover you’ve won, especially if it’s a large sum. They can help you protect your assets and decide whether to take a lump-sum payout or receive payments over time.

Finally, enjoy it. How often do you win the lottery and what’s the likelihood it’ll happen again?

Remember: Any loss could be your gain.

April Bailey is a freelance journalist, writer and rookie filmmaker based in Atlanta. She is a Nashville native who prides herself on being frugal.