'Where's that ticket?' Michigan residents ask

June 29, 1993|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

HILLSDALE, Mich. -- People in this rural southern Michigan town are asking themselves an $18-million question: Where is that winning Michigan Lotto ticket?

Residents have scoured every place they can think of, from pockets of old clothes to dresser drawers and boxes. Still, no one has come up with the ticket bearing the winning numbers: 9-13-17-18-30-38.

And with just two days left to claim the lottery drawing from July 1, 1992, most people have concluded that the ticket must have left town with the person who bought it.

When word came last month that the only winning ticket for the $18 million jackpot had been sold at a local 7-Eleven, it created a wave of excitement in Hillsdale, a town of about 8,000 people near the Michigan-Ohio border.

"That first week, people were doing their spring cleaning thoroughly," said Kathy Rock, who owns the convenience store with her husband, Bob.

The winning ticketholder has until closing time Thursday at the state lottery office in Lansing to claim the prize.

If no one comes forward, it would be one of the country's largest unclaimed jackpots ever, lottery officials said.

A few Hillsdale residents are convinced they had the winning ticket, but it was destroyed, Ms. Rock said.

Many of them have stopped by the 7-Eleven with tales of their lost windfall. One woman told Ms. Rock she's sure she had the ticket in her car when it was totaled in an accident last July 1.

Another person thinks the ticket went into the laundry in a pants pocket. Ms. Rock said one man worried that he may have thrown the ticket out after reading a list of outstanding winning ticket numbers in the Sunday newspaper in January. The numbers in the paper were incorrect.

But most people here simply believe the ticket was bought by someone from out of town -- a summer tourist or a worker who was in Hillsdale for the annual carnival last year.

Ms. Rock said the 7-Eleven sold about 2,000 tickets for the July 1 drawing, about twice the number of usual lotto sales. She estimates about 90 percent of the tickets were sold to local residents.

If no one claims the jackpot, about $9 million of the money will go into the state school aid fund, according to Kerry McNulty, spokesman for the Michigan Lottery Commission.

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