PALMDALE, Calif. — A California woman who didn't know she had a jackpot-winning $23 million lottery ticket in her car has come forward to claim her fortune.
The Palmdale woman's daughter recognized her from a newspaper photo of the supposed winner, captured on the liquor store's surveillance camera.
More details about the woman's identity were to be announced Friday, lottery officials said.
"She just never checked the ticket," lottery spokesman Alex Traverso told the newspaper. "Her daughter took a picture of her photo in the newspaper and sent it to her mother, she went to her car and found the ticket."
Earlier this week, lottery officials had put out a public notice that the winning ticket from the May 28 drawing had not been claimed and was in danger of expiring within the month. They also released a grainy surveillance photo of a woman in a blue shirt and dark pants who was identified as the then-unknown winner.
The ticket had the correct numbers, 14, 7, 26, 31, 23 and Mega 5. If she had not turned in the ticket within the next 25 days, she would have lost the money, and the millions would have gone to California schools.
State officials used video from Michael's Market and Liquor, where the ticket was brought, to bring attention to it and try to identify her.
Store manager Ben Sadi said they have been waiting for the woman to come forward.
"We are glad to see the ticket claimed," Sadi said, adding it was sold three weeks after the store was opened.
"This is a lucky store. We have sold several other tickets with winners of $1,000 or $5,000."
Sadi said the store already has been paid its bonus of one half percent of the prize, or $115,000, for selling the winning ticket.
Since news of the winning ticket got out, business has picked up a lot.
"We are getting people driving 30-40-50 miles to come here and buy a ticket," Sadi said. "All our regular customers keep telling me to sell them the next big ticket."
Sadi said the Palmdale store is one of 23 they operate and the first to sell a ticket worth millions.
Lottery officials said the woman filed her claim on Thursday and it will take up to five weeks to issue her the first check.
A $52 million jackpot winner in Fremont was found in August by a similar public appeal.
"He and his wife saw a picture of him on the news that night and came in the next day to claim the prize," Traverso said.
In the last fiscal year, officials say more than $20.5 million in cash prizes went unclaimed.
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