'Mystery woman' who won $23M lottery forgot ticket in car

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kens5.com

Posted on November 2, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 2 at 10:31 AM

PALMDALE, Calif. (AP) -- 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 San Bernardino County Sun reports the Palmdale woman's daughter recognized her from a newspaper photo of the supposed winner, captured on the liquor store's surveillance camera.

Lottery officials say they'll release more details about the woman's identity at a press conference Friday in San Bernardino.

Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso says she just never checked her ticket until her daughter showed her the photo in the newspaper. The woman then went to her car and found the winning ticket.

The woman had until Nov. 26 to claim the prize.

The winning ticket from Michael's Market & Liquor in Palmdale is believed to have been sold to a dark-haired woman in a blue or purple top on May 30, spokesman Alex Traverso said Wednesday.

Lottery officials used surveillance video to narrow it down to the woman as the likely purchaser.

"We want our winners to be able to actually collect the prizes they've won," Traverso said. Winners have 180 days to claim their prize.

If the ticket isn't claimed by Nov. 26, the unclaimed millions will be given to California schools.

A $52 million jackpot winner in Fremont was found in August by a 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.

Liquor store manager Ben Sadi said there is an oversized check and signs around the store about the jackpot win, but he said he doesn't think the woman has been back.

Still, the winning ticket has been a stroke of good luck for the store's owners. The store received a bonus of one half percent of the prize, or $115,000, for selling the winning ticket.

"We sold the ticket the third week after our official day of opening the store," said Sadi.

Since news of the winning ticket got out, business has picked up a lot.

"There are a lot of people that drove a long way to come buy tickets here," said Sadi.

In the last fiscal year, officials say more than $20.5 million in cash prizes went unclaimed.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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