Louisiana state lottery players may be turning down a big payday, without even knowing it. According to Louisiana lottery officials, nearly $11 million went unclaimed in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Prizes for draw style games, such as Mega Millions and Powerball, must be claimed within six months. After that six month period, wins are forfeited and the money is returned to the state lottery.

Bo Bernhard, executive director of the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, has theorized that most of these unclaimed prizes stem from players losing tickets, or simply not checking them. People who see that they missed the first few numbers might throw the ticket away without bothering to check for smaller wins.

Most of the unclaimed prizes are smaller wins; however there are currently large prizes that are very close to being forfeited, such as a $3 million winning Mega Millions ticket, purchased at Murphy Express in Denham Springs, which must be claimed by October 7.

The odds of matching all six numbers in the Powerball or Mega Millions are slightly more than 1 in 175 million.