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Lotto player claims $23-million jackpot five months after her win

The ticket, purchased by a woman for her mother, had lain in the winner's glove compartment for months. The California Lottery helped identify the daughter and, thus, the mother.

November 02, 2012|By Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times

A Super Lotto Plus ticket worth $23 million was gathering dust in a glove compartment for more than five months before the lucky winner realized it was there.

She can thank the California Lottery for an assist.

With only 25 days left to claim a life-changing prize, the winner, who has not been identified, realized her mother had the ticket when she saw her own likeness on the front page of the Antelope Valley Press.

Lotto officials had released an image taken from surveillance video at Michael's Market & Liquor in Palmdale, where the winning ticket was purchased. Lotto spokesman Elias Dominguez said the woman in the image had purchased the ticket for her mother, and the mother had put the ticket in her car's glove compartment. It remained there for months.

"They had no idea they had won," Dominguez said.

The ticket buyer sent a picture of the newspaper page to her mother, who saw the surveillance photo and initially thought her daughter was in trouble with the law. Then the mother put on her glasses, read the headline and understood what had happened.

The mother turned in the ticket Thursday to the lottery's Inland Empire office.

Although it's unusual for a jackpot to go unclaimed, Dominguez said that a few years ago a $12-million winning ticket bought in Barstow was never turned in. Earlier this year, one of 29 winners who matched five of six numbers in a record-setting Mega Millions jackpot never claimed the $227,955 prize.

And in August, Lotto officials finally heard after five months from the winner of a $52-million jackpot, Dominguez said.

In that case, the California Lottery sent investigators to a Fresno retailer and asked for surveillance video, Dominguez said. The winner eventually came forward, so Lotto officials tried the same strategy again this week.

The $23-million ticket would have expired Nov. 26 — 180 days after the drawing in May.

matt.stevens@latimes.com

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