Let Irving Pryzyborski's story be a lesson: don't let your winning lottery tickets expire.
Let it also serve as a reminder: the state is holding onto millions of dollars in unclaimed prizes.
"There are a ton of prizes out there; a quarter of a million dollars prizes are sitting out there, two-hundred thousand dollar prizes are sitting out there. One is not very old -- a couple of months -- but $4.5 million hasn't been claimed," said Tracy Owens, the communciations manager for the Illinois Lottery.
Pryzyborski, a retiree and widower in his late 60s, recently found a lottery ticket that had dropped into a a tax file a little less than a year ago.
As soon as he found them, he took them to where he bought them: a nearby 7-Eleven on the corner of South Ewing Avenue and East 107th Street. A sign has been hanging in the store, urging the unclaimed lotto winner to come forward.
Had Pryzyborski not made a claim by 5 p.m. Thursday, his winning ticket would have been expired and he'd have been out $9 million.
"We never get this close to a ticket this large going unclaimed," said Owens. "This would have been the largest unclaimed ticket we’ve ever had by far."
Owens said Pryzyborski has opted for the lump-sum payout, which should be roughly $5 million.
He used the incident as an invitation for people to check out the "unclaimed prizes" section of the Illinois Lottery website.
"Please, come in, we want to see you, we want to meet you, we want to talk about your story as well," said Owens.