No. Tickets winning a "FREE TICKET" may be redeemed only at a participating Lottery retail location and may be redeemed for a FREE instant ticket of equivalent sales price from any current active instant game, within the claim period for that game.
The Lottery doesn't publicize every winner, so it's very likely there are winners in your area that you haven't heard about. When prizes are claimed at retailers, the Lottery does not know individuals' names. Also, some people who claim prizes at a Lottery office simply do not want any publicity and we respect their wishes when we can. When granted permission, the Lottery will post winners' pictures and stories on the "Meet our Winners" section of our Web site.
Winning tickets in the Lottery's scratch-off games are randomly distributed. For security reasons, the Lottery doesn't know where winning tickets are until they are claimed. Drawings for the Lottery's draw-style games are also random events. Again, we don't know where the winning tickets were sold until after the drawing.
Because of the random nature of winning numbers and distribution of winning scratch-offs, statistics dictate that the greater the sales in one area, the greater the likelihood of having winners in that area.
As it turns out, that's exactly the case. As the chart below demonstrates, 70 percent of Lottery sales come from south Louisiana, which is why that region collectively also has a larger percentage of winners.
Percentage of Sales as of June 30, 2011
New Orleans region
Baton Rouge region
The same statistical reality also exists for Powerball jackpots. Powerball sales in Louisiana account for roughly 3 percent of total Powerball sales from all participating lotteries. Although every individual ticket has an equal chance of winning the jackpot, collectively, states with higher sales have a higher percentage of jackpot winning tickets. Since joining Powerball in 1995, Louisiana has had 14 jackpot winners for an average of about 1 a year.
The Lottery will only issue one check to one person or business entity. Assuming the group does not have a separate tax ID number in the legal name of their group, the group will need to pick one of their members to sign the ticket and represent the group by completing the claim form and providing the required identification. When the group representative claims the prize in person at a lottery office, he or she will need a photo ID and their original Social Security card. The prize check will be issued to the person the group selects and that person will be responsible for distributing the prize money to the group members. It is not possible for some group members to take the cash option while others choose the annuity.
If the person receiving the check does not want to pay taxes on the entire prize, then a Federal 5754 tax form may be completed before the check is issued. Every member of the group would be listed on the 5754 and the Lottery would divide any tax obligation for the prize between all of the members based on their portion of the gross prize amount. The Lottery would send a W2-G to each person at the end of January so they can include their gambling income on their income tax documents. The Lottery requires the legal name, social security number, complete mailing address, and gross prize amount for each group member on the 5754. The Lottery would also like to have proof of each member's name and SSN for our claim file. However, each group member is not required to be present at the time the prize is claimed.
Currently, 44 lotteries participate in Mega Millions, including Louisiana. The others are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin and the Virgin Islands.
The prize on a winning Lottery ticket may be split among a group of ticket owners; however, only one prize check for the entire prize amount is issued per winning ticket. During the process of claiming a prize, the Lottery issues a single payment for the entire prize amount to either one person or legal entity (trust, corporation, etc.). The check recipient is responsible for distributing the winnings to the group members if winnings are to be shared or divided. The check recipient may also choose to complete a Federal Form 5754 that ensures the tax obligation of the prize is distributed among the group members according to the gross prize amount of each person’s share. The Federal Form 5754 allows the Lottery to send a separate W2-G tax form to each individual winner noting the amount won and withheld on their behalf.
In order to do this, each member of the group must provide their Social Security card when the prize is claimed. The check recipient must also provide picture identification. If the prize is to be issued to anyone other than the owner of the ticket, the owner must complete a document acknowledging that they will not receive payment from the Lottery for the prize.
It is not necessary for a group of people to form a legal entity to claim most prizes. However, for a jackpot prize paid in annual installments to a group of individuals, the Lottery asks that the winners form a legal entity with an assigned tax identification number. This simplifies the tax reporting and prize distribution for a group of people receiving payments over an extended time.
When claiming a prize as a legal entity, the legal document organizing the entity must list the name of each member of the group, their city of residence, and the portion of the prize each person will receive. Each member of the group must also provide their Social Security card. As with all claims, the names of those receiving prize funds and their city of residence is public record.
The Lottery encourages all players to seek financial advice before claiming a large jackpot prize.