Will the millionaire please stand up?

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Theres a newly minted millionaire out there somewhere, but theyre running out of time to redeem a state lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Alexandrias West End. 
    
In the two months since officials announced the winning numbers of the 2011 New Years Millionaire Raffle, two people have stepped forward to claim their riches. That leaves a third winning ticket as yet unclaimed, said John Hagerty, spokesman for Virginia Lottery. 
    
We havent heard anything from anyone about it, Hagerty said. As far as the New Years raffle, this is the fourth year weve done it and this is the first one where weve had one ticket that went [unclaimed] longer than a month.
    
Most prize winners redeem their tickets within a week or two of the announcement. They have 180 days to claim their riches before the money is rolled into Virginias Literary Fund, to be used for school construction, renovation and teacher retirement plans, Hagerty said. 
    
While the identity of the winner remains a mystery, the store where the ticket was sold isnt: the Super Dollar Savers on South Pickett Street. As far as owner Harrison Dang is concerned, his store also won big when it forked over the $1 million ticket. 
    
We were really excited about it, even though its not my ticket. I was excited, because it gives us publicity and puts us on the map, Dang said. Customers can consider [the store] lucky.
    
Dang doesnt know who sold the winning raffle ticket the store moves roughly 2,500 tickets a week. It could have been him or any of his employees, Dang said. 
    
But it is the first prize-worthy ticket of note the store has sold since getting into the lottery business in June 2010, he said. 
    
What happened to the million-dollar piece of paper? Dang believes it may have been misplaced, damaged or accidentally discarded. Hes had customers come to him with laundry washed winning tickets after the owner haphazardly tucked it away in a pocket. 
    
I mean, since they have not come forward, probably someone lost it. There are a lot of people who dont check their tickets or put it in a certain place, Dang said. Those scenarios came to my mind when someone like this doesnt come forward. Maybe they put it somewhere or lost it?
    
Its a safe bet the owner doesnt know theyre sitting on a pile of riches if a month has passed by and no one has come forward with the ticket, Hagerty said. Some winners will wait until the New Year to collect for tax reasons, but that wouldnt work in this situation.
    
Though its a rare occurrence, Hagerty recalls at least one woman who redeemed a $250,000 ticket just hours before it expired. 
    
Lydia Burke, of Mechanicsville, had unwittingly hung on to a winning Mega Millions ticket for almost six months when she saw a news report in a Richmond 7-Eleven covering the then still-unclaimed prize in September 2009. 


Eight hours shy of the expiration date, Burke handed the ticket over to state lottery officials. 
    
Theres still time, Hagerty said. It does make you wonder, we often wonder, where is that ticket? Is it in their wallet? Did somebody not realize it? Weve heard some interesting stories from people who have claimed large prizes at the last minute.
    
Whoever it is, the winner has until the end of business on June 29 to redeem the ticket before it becomes just another scrap of paper.   

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