Man Claims $24 Million Lottery Prize after Almost a Year

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. strike it lucky / straɪk ɪt ˈlʌk i / (idiom) – to suddenly experience good luck, especially with money or wealth

    I struck it lucky yesterday and won a car from a raffle.

  2. put off / pʊt ɔf / (phrasal) – to delay something, such as an event or an activity

    You should not put off doing your homework until tomorrow.

  3. winnings / ˈwɪn ɪŋ s / (n) – money won as a prize in a game or contest

    The man happily collected his winnings from the slot machine.

  4. installment / ɪnˈstɔl mənt / (n) – a portion of an entire payment that is divided over a period of time

    He gives a $500 installment monthly to pay off his debt.

  5. lump sum / lʌmp sʌm / (n) – a large amount of money paid at one time

    The prize was given to the winner in a lump sum.


Read the text below.

A man from New Jersey had struck it lucky in the New York Lottery last year, but he claimed his prize only a year later.

Jimmie Smith bought the lottery ticket that won him $24.1 million back in May 2016, but he learned about his win only this year. The 68-year-old retired security officer had been buying lottery tickets for more than 50 years. However, he would always leave the tickets in his favorite shirt’s pocket and put off checking them to a later time.

Lottery winners usually have only one year to claim their winnings, and there have been many who have failed to do so. According to the New York Gaming Commission, the total amount of unclaimed lottery prizes from 2002 to 2014 was $191 million.

To avoid the same situation for Smith’s unclaimed prize, the commission had urged players to check their tickets before the prize expired. Smith, who was able to find the lucky ticket in his old shirt, finally presented himself to the commission on the last day that he could claim his prize. However, he had to finish some paperwork to prove his identity first and did not collect his prize until only recently.

Smith chose to receive his prize in installments. He said that he wants his whole family to take part in deciding how to use the money.

On the contrary, there are winners who choose to receive their winnings in a lump sum. An example is a woman from Massachusetts who took home a total of $336 million. Because of the dangers that might come with her huge prize, the local police volunteered to increase patrols around her home.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think lottery prizes should be given in a lump sum or in installments? Why?
• Do you think that gaming commissions and the media should publicize lottery winners’ personal information? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Why do you think a lot of people still join lotteries despite very slim chances of winning? Discuss.
• Do you think that society benefits from lottery? Why or why not?