How many times have you gone through the pockets of your jeans or cleaned out an old purse and stumbled across a $5 or $20 bill you forgot you had? Now imagine going through the pocket of an old shirt and finding a lottery ticket worth $24 million.
That’s just what happened to 68-year-old Jimmie Smith of New Jersey. KTLA-TV reports that the father of two and grandfather of 12 was going through the pocket of an old shirt he had hanging in the closet when he found a stack of unchecked lottery tickets.
“I always told myself, ‘I’ll check them when I have time,’” Smith said.
As it turns out, he checked the tickets right on time, because if he had waited two days later, he would have lost out on $24.1 million.
Smith bought a ticket for the New York lottery in May of last year. The drawing for that ticket was on May 25, 2016, and the winning numbers were 05-12-13-22-25-35.
Lottery winners have a year to claim their prize after the numbers are announced. As the expiration date for Smith’s ticket approached, the New York Gaming Commission saw that the prize was still unclaimed and began to put 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.
Smith heard that message and went to check the tickets in the pocket of the shirt he had hanging in the closet.
He said he stood there in shock for a moment when he realized that the numbers matched the winning draw.
“I had to stick my head out the window and breathe in some fresh air,” Smith said. “I was in serious doubt. I really had to convince myself this was real.”
Smith found his winning ticket on May 23, 2017. If he had found it two days later, he would have been ineligible to receive his prize.
After completing a review, the New York lottery released Smith’s name Wednesday.
He has chosen to receive his payments over the next 26 years.
Smith said that he plans to have an “all-family discussion” once things settle down for him.
Of all the luck. I wish I could accidentally find $10,000, and this man found a whole-ass $24 million. Good for him and his family.
Read more at KTLA-TV.