No. 37-23-26-22-17-31, your ship has come in. And you're out there on the streets of New York somewhere, at the wrong dock.
New York State lottery officials have been waiting for five days for someone to step forward and claim $2,877,203.30, the biggest prize in state lottery history.
Their computers tell them that the winning ticket drawn Saturday night was purchased Saturday afternoon at Cedeno's, a neighborhood liquor store in the Inwood section of New York. What they don't know is the name, or even the street address, of the lucky New Yorker who beat the odds -- one chance in 1.9 million -- to win $100,000 flat out and $200,000 a year, plus interest, for the next 10 years.
But the winner has a year to claim his or her millions, and lottery officials are confident the ticket will show up. "We're betting on it," lottery official George Yamin said.
"None of our big prizes have ever gone unclaimed," Yanin said yesterday, but he acknowledged that the claiming had never taken this long, either. The previous record was held by the winner of last year's special $2 million Olympics lottery, who carried his winning ticket as close to his body as he could get it for three days until the lottery offices opened up on Monday morning.
"We do better than $200 million worth of lottery business in a year," Yamin said, and only about 3.6 percent of the prizes go unclaimed -- "most of it in the smaller prizes, $50, $100, maybe $1,000."
Pedro Cedeno, the liquor store owner who sold the winning ticket, is also pretty sure the money will find a home. He sells about 3,000 lottery ticket a week, mostly to his regular customers, and he figures that sooner or later the winner will wander in for a pint or a six-pack and walk out a millionaire. "I got a sign on the window," he said proudly.
The lottery outlet in his store has only produced three winners, counting this one, Cedeno said. The previous high winnings were $669. About 90 percent of his customers are Hispanic, no high rollers in the crowd, he said, and they take their lottery tickets seriously. "They keep the ticket," he said. "They'll come to check up."
So where is lucky No. 37-23-26-22-17-31? "Sometimes the winners are confused," Yamin said, "or they have to muster up the courage to bring the ticket in. The ticket is the thing."
Ah, the ticket, the only proof needed to claim almost three million bucks. Supposing the winning ticket has been lost, or maybe eaten by the family dog?
"Then the dog just had a $2.8 million snack," Yamin said.