A 68-year-old retired security officer from New Jersey recently discovered that he won a whopping $24 million lottery jackpot, just 2 days before the ticket expired!
Jimmie Smith bought a ticket to the New York Lotto more than a year ago. The winning numbers for the May 25, 2016 drawing were: 05 – 12 – 13 – 22 – 25 – 35. Winners can claim their prize within 1 year of the draw date. Last May, the expiration day for the his ticket was fast approaching.
The New York Gaming Commission knew the winning ticket, worth $24.1 million, was sold at a stall in New York City — but it didn’t know who bought the ticket. So earlier this year, the New York Lottery started to get the word out.
“We urge New York Lottery players: Check your pockets. Check your glove box. Look under the couch cushions. If you have this winning ticket, we look forward to meeting you,” Gweneth Dean, director of the Commission’s Division of the Lottery, said at the time.
Luckily, Mr. Smith caught the news story about the search for the mystery winner of the winning ticket. That inspired him to check on his old tickets. According to him, he told lottery officials that he had been buying tickets in New York and New Jersey for the last fifty years, but was never in a rush to check them. According to him, “I always told myself, ‘I’ll check them when I have the time.”
He went up to the closet where the old shirt hung. “I ended up with a pile of tickets, including the one they were talking about on the news.”
When the numbers matched up, he “stood there for a minute thinking, ‘Do I see what I think I see?’”
“I had to stick my head out the window and breathe in some fresh air,” he said. “I was in serious doubt. I really had to convince myself this was real.”
This happened on May 23, 2017, just two days before the ticket expires! It’s a good thing he checked on his tickets. Because if he had waited 2 days longer, he’d have been ineligible to collect the price after May 25, 2017.
Mr. Smith chose to receive his prize in installments over the course of 26 years.
When asked about how he would spend the money, Mr. Smith, who is a father of two and grandfather of 12, said he plans to have an “all-family discussion” before making any decisions. Congratulations, sir!
So for those of you who regularly buy lottery tickets, check your tickets. You might get lucky and be a winner, too!