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Man finds $4.85 million Lotto ticket in cookie jar

Illinois LotteryIllinois Lottery: Man finds $4.85 million Lotto ticket in cookie jar
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Includes video report

Maybe you've heard this story before. Or dreamed it.

A man cleans out old lottery tickets from a cookie jar, and instead of throwing them away takes them to the 7-Eleven to check them out. And finds one of them is worth millions.

It gets better for Ricardo Cerezo of Geneva, Illinois. He says his family was facing eviction, and he'll use part of the winnings — $4.85 million — to pay off the home.

"It couldn't have happened at a better time," said Cerezo, a management consultant. "I just thought, this is how God works."

Cerezo said his wife was cleaning out the kitchen and mentioned the lottery tickets that had accumulated over the past month in a glass cookie jar.

"It was either take them, get them checked, or she was going to trash them that night," he said.

Cerezo said he took the tickets to a 7-Eleven in Aurora and scanned them. The first eight or nine tickets weren't winners, he said.

"The following one was $3, so I was excited. I get to pay for my Pepsi. And then the last one said file a claim," he said, which meant it was worth at least $600.

Cerezo went online and found that the numbers matched the Feb. 2 Lotto drawing.

"As each number kept matching, the smile kept going higher and higher. And when I realized we had all six numbers, it was that shocking moment of , 'Whoa, can this really be?'" he said at a news conference Wednesday. "Fast forward to the next day, Monday: Called in sick from work, went down into Chicago. It's one of those feelings where it's OK if they fire me."

After he waited about half an hour, Cerezo said, lottery officials brought him into a room and said his ticket was worth $4.85 million.

Just three months earlier, Cerezo appeared at a foreclosure hearing where a judge gave him a few more months to find a new home before they would be evicted.

"That was on Feb. 12, so we were sitting on $4 million at that time in this jar," he said. "We will have our home paid off."

Cerezo said February holds special significance for him and his family because his daughter Savannah was born in that month. She died from a sudden illness last year at 14.

VIDEO: Watch the video report

yuzE5KEsFfkMan finds $4.85 million Lotto ticket in cookie jarFacing eviction, an Illinois man found a winning lottery ticket worth $4.85 million in his cookie jar.T00M57Shttp://img.youtube.com/vi/yuzE5KEsFfk/3.jpghttp://youtu.be/yuzE5KEsFfk2013-05-17T08:19:00-05:00

Thanks to everyone who sent a tip.

Chicago Tribune, Lottery Post Staff

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41 comments. Last comment 1 year ago by jamella724.
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Lucky4Life's avatar - batman14

United States
Member #85038
January 7, 2010
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Posted: May 17, 2013, 8:35 am - IP Logged

I think this is my favorite lottery story of all time.  Money can't solve everything but they sure did deserve a financial leg up.  My son is 14, I can't imagine losing him.

    lottolaughs's avatar - avatar 3824.gif
    California
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    May 31, 2006
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    Posted: May 17, 2013, 8:41 am - IP Logged

    That's one tasty chocolate chip cookie!

      Kumo's avatar - ebDWVf6 jpg?1

      United States
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      January 27, 2012
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      Posted: May 17, 2013, 8:57 am - IP Logged

      My step-daughter is 12 and my daughter is 9 months, I know my wife and I would definitely be crushed if anything happened to them.

      I know Mr. Cerezo's Daughter is smiling down on them from heaven. It's good to hear a win go to those that really need it. :)

      Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. ~Ronald Reagan

      "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." ~Wolfgang von Goethe

      "It's preferable to be harmlessly paranoid than fatally stupid."  ~Anonymous

        GGStarlings's avatar - Reddish Lavendar4-smallsquare2.jpg
        Boise, Idaho
        United States
        Member #76087
        June 18, 2009
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        Posted: May 17, 2013, 9:00 am - IP Logged

        Wow, great story.

        La Maga Della Spaziometria

          rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
          Texas
          United States
          Member #55889
          October 23, 2007
          3363 Posts
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          Posted: May 17, 2013, 9:13 am - IP Logged

          I love reading stories like this.

          Something like this would never happen to me because I check my tics at the time of the draw.

          Mmmm.... maybe I should just try to keep my tics in the drawer for 2 or 3 months before checking them.

          Naw....

          CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

          A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)

            Avatar
            AL
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            December 28, 2012
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            Posted: May 17, 2013, 9:23 am - IP Logged

            Wow!!!! What an amazing story. Smile

              hearsetrax's avatar - 78638c467ef281febf24383e126f74b6

              United States
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              May 21, 2007
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              Posted: May 17, 2013, 9:29 am - IP Logged

              Yes Nod gotta love stories like this indeed ......

                Avatar
                Windermere, FL/Franklin, TN
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                March 1, 2007
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                Posted: May 17, 2013, 9:52 am - IP Logged

                I am glad he found this ticket prior to being foreclosed and homeless. Just imagine if him and his family had gone through the eviction process and someone else found the ticket while rummaging through their belonging that had been put to the curb Eek

                  dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
                  Oklahoma
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                  November 12, 2009
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                  Posted: May 17, 2013, 10:03 am - IP Logged

                  Congratulation Mr. Cerezo may your daughter RIPBlue Angel

                  I Love Pink & Green 1908

                    whiteballz's avatar - Lottery-015.jpg
                    Nutley, New Jersey
                    United States
                    Member #131063
                    August 1, 2012
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                    Posted: May 17, 2013, 10:11 am - IP Logged

                    maybe I should start putting my tickets in a cookie jar too.

                    .

                      Avatar
                      AL
                      United States
                      Member #137161
                      December 28, 2012
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                      Posted: May 17, 2013, 10:30 am - IP Logged

                      maybe I should start putting my tickets in a cookie jar too.

                      I Agree!

                        Piaceri's avatar - sarsony1
                        Wannabe Won Percenter
                        Republic of Texas
                        United States
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                        January 9, 2008
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                        Posted: May 17, 2013, 10:36 am - IP Logged

                        Love this story! 

                        Dance

                        face

                        singlewinnersinglewinnersinglewinner   


                          United States
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                          September 7, 2011
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                          Posted: May 17, 2013, 10:37 am - IP Logged

                          Best wishes to the lucky winners.

                            noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                            Bay Area/ California
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                            December 12, 2012
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                            Posted: May 17, 2013, 11:22 am - IP Logged

                            There is nothing better than a cookie jar story to lift the spirits for this wild jackpot weekend. Congratulations to finding your pot of Gold- spend it well.
                            Party