$1.5M lottery ticket sold in Los Gatos still unclaimed with expiration near

An unclaimed $1.5 million Powerball ticket purchased at a Los Gatos gas station is about to expire.

The winning ticket was sold at a Mobil gas station in October and will expire on April 24, 180 days after it was sold.

If no one comes forward to claim it, the prize money will go toward California schools.

Since the lottery began 28 years ago, unclaimed prizes have contributed more than a billion dollars to California schools.

Lottery expert and CEO of Mido Lotto app, Rich Wheeler, runs a lottery ticket courier firm that buys and brings your lotto tickets directly to you.

"Annually in the U.S. there are about $2 billion of various lottery products, big and small, that go unclaimed every single year," said Wheeler.

That includes scratchers and major draw games.

"There was a case in L.A., a couple of years ago, where somebody who won, I think it was $25 million on Superlotto Plus, and they managed to put that ticket through the laundry, and it got destroyed," said Wheeler.

But, there are five legendary stories where a missing ticket ultimately was found and redeemed in time.

United Press International reports that a Tennessee man threw what he thought was a losing ticket into the back of his truck. But he retrieved it to play a second chance game, only to find it was a $4 million winner.

A Michigan man trashed a misread ticket but decided to fish it out and check again. He won $25,000 a year for life. Then a Maryland woman put a ticket in a stack of papers. She later found it — a $50,000 winner.

A double-lucky Maryland woman left her winning $12,000 at the store. But, she was lucky to be able to retrieve it. Another $50,000 winner in Maryland, thought she lost her ticket. She found it under her bed, where her cat had stashed it.

In most cases, the culprit is simply neglect.

"They forget about it and that's usually what we find in these kinds of situations," said Wheeler.

Though California does not tax lotto winnings, 24% is deducted for federal taxes. So that $1.5 million ticket in Los Gatos, after taxes and put in a 4% saving account, would pay out $45,000 a year without ever touching the principal.