Time is ticking away for the holder of a Pennsylvania Lottery Powerball ticket worth $50,000.

The winning ticket was purchased at Dugan's Store in Jim Thorpe for the Dec. 27, 2008 drawing.

The ticket will expire on Dec. 27, 2009 one year from the date of the drawing. Because the prize expires on a Sunday, the last chance to file a claim in person will be Thursday, Dec. 24 at 4 p.m. at Lottery headquarters in Middletown, or at 4:30 p.m. at the area Lottery office at 49 South Washington St. in Wilkes-Barre, (570) 826-2091.

The Pennsylvania Lottery encourages the holder of the winning ticket to sign the back of the ticket and call the Lottery office at (717) 702-8146. A claim submitted through the mail must be postmarked by Saturday, Dec. 26.

Jack Dugan of Dugan's Store said that he had not been contacted by the Pennsylvania Lottery Commission, but had been able to learn about it through a press release. Although the winning ticket was sold in his shop, he noted, "I have absolutely no record of who bought it."

According to the press release of Dec. 10, "We're hoping the Lottery can make someone's holiday a little brighter by helping this lucky winner to claim the $50,000 prize," said Lottery executive director Ed Trees. "Anyone who purchased a Powerball ticket last December in Jim Thorpe should check it as soon as possible because the winning ticket will expire in only two weeks.

"The soon-to-expire Powerball ticket matched four of five drawn numbers, 12-15-26-31-43, the Powerball, 10, and purchased PowerPlay for a $50,000 prize, less 25 percent federal withholding."

"Most lottery customers are local," Dugan explained. "At times, there are more visitors in town tourists in the summer or family visiting at Christmas time. This would have been a Christmas time ticket, so it was probably sold to a visiting relative."

Since 1977, Dugan, who's store has sold an estimated 10 million lottery tickets, has had its share of winners. Besides the winners of a couple thousand dollars or less that happen frequently, "We had two $200,000 winners, both neighbors in the west end of town, and a couple that just moved into town was a $300,000 winner."

Ironically, the store had one $1 million winner Jack's 79-year-old mother, Pearl. In January of 2000, Jack was refilling a roll of lottery tickets for the $1 Million Jan. 4 Holiday Gift Sweepstakes, as his mother stood behind the counter. He had loaded the new roll, and because he was required to sell the tickets in order, he tried to push the tickets left over from the previous roll into the dispenser.

"One of the ones I tried to shove in there fell on the floor," Jack said. "I picked it up and tried again to put it in and it fell on the floor again. When it fell on the floor for the second time, my mother said, 'I think we should buy that ticket. I think it's an omen.'"

She bought the $5 instant scratch-off ticket, and began to scratch the bottom of the ticket to reveal that it was "a claim," a prize of at least $500, but it did not reveal the exact amount.

"She handed it back to me," Jack said. "I scratched off the rest of it, and told her. 'Mom, you just won a million dollars.' I was in disbelief."

Pearl used the money to take the family on a trip to Italy and she purchased a piece of jewelry that she had always wanted. She passed away two years later.

To play Powerball, players pay $1 and select five white balls from the first set of 59 numbers plus a single red ball, the Powerball, from a second set of 39 numbers. Players may select their own numbers using a Powerball play slip, or they may opt for computer-selected quick picks. Players must match all five numbers drawn plus the Powerball number to win the jackpot. For an extra $1 per Powerball game, players can multiply their Powerball prizes by 2, 3, 4, or 5 times the original prize amount for all prizes except the Jackpot. Prizes can multiply up to $1 million.

Unclaimed, expired lottery prizes remain in the Lottery Fund and are used to support programs benefiting older Pennsylvanians.