A New Jersey man found a $24 million lottery ticket in his pocket two days before it was set to expire.
The 64-year-old, Jimmie Smith, had the ticket in an old T-shirt hanging in his closet since May 2016 when he bought it.
The winning numbers for the May 25, 2016 drawing were 05 - 12 - 13 - 22 - 25 - 35.
It wasn’t until recently when Smith, a retired security officer, saw an evening news episode that alerted him to the Lottery’s efforts to find the mystery LOTTO player that he was inspired to seek out the multiple unchecked tickets in his shirt pocket.
“I ended up with a stack, a pile of tickets, including the one they were talking about on the news,” said Smith, a grandfather of 12. “I 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. I was in serious doubt. I really had to convince myself this was real.”
Smith and his much-sought-after ticket have been the subjects of a much-publicized search by the New York Lottery. The winner was on the verge of forfeiting the prize as the one-year deadline for claiming it approached.
Smith purchased from a Renu Sales in New York City.
Smith said he’s been buying tickets in New York City and New Jersey since the 1960s, but has never been in a rush to check any of them.
“I always told myself, ‘I’ll check them when I have the time,’” he said.
Smith is set to receive his $24,100,000 prize in payments over 26 years.
He said after things settle down, he plans to have an “all-family discussion” about what to do with the windfall.