New York Lottery Posts Fliers in Last-Ditch Search for Winner of Unclaimed $7 Million

Year-old ticket expires Friday

The popular knock against the lottery is that you can play it, but you're an idiot if you do, because nobody ever wins. But a new campaign for the New York Lottery is about a different kind of problem—someone who actually won, but who's yet to claim the $7 million prize, and almost a year later, is about to run out of time.

McCann New York has posted street fliers in Canarsie, the Brooklyn neighborhood that's home to Milky Way Deli, where the winning ticket in a Cash4Life game last summer was bought. A sketch of the ticket and the headline "Have You Seen Me?" adorns one flier. A stick figure smiles dumbly on a second with the headline "Is This You?" The subtext of both is: Are you the fool who's about to let seven figures slip through your fingers?

In other words, the whole thing is devious and hilarious because it's playful and it also reinforces the perception that people actually win—and invites everyone who sees it to imagine how much smarter they would be if they did.

Of course, it doesn't really seem like the New York Lottery's heart is really in the mission of finding the lucky lost soul. The winner, whoever he or she is, bought the ticket last July 24 (and needs to come forward by the same date this year, or the money goes back into the pool). But the lottery only started its canvassing campaign yesterday (July 22)—and the super high production values of its posters pretty much say it all.

Maybe the whole thing is a grand hoax—and the organization has the real winner stashed away somewhere, to roll out at the last minute—or there's no winner at all. Then again, none of that really matters in the end, because whatever $4 million lump sum pittance would be left after taxes still isn't enough to live in New York anyway.