68-year-old Jimmie Smith had two days left to miss a life changing opportunity. Smith happened to discover a pile of old unchecked lottery tickets stuffed in his pocket.
May 25, 2016 was the day the winning numbers were pulled. Smith told himself, “I’ll check them when I have time.”
It’s a good thing he did. Because had he waited two days longer, he’d have lost out on $24.1 million.
More than a year ago, Smith bought a ticket to the New York Lotto. The winning numbers for the May 25, 2016 drawing were: 05 – 12 – 13 – 22 – 25 – 35
The New York Gaming Commission knew the winning ticket, worth $24.1 million, was sold at a bodega in New York City — but it didn’t know who bought the ticket.
Winners have a year to claim the prize and that expiration day was quickly approaching. So earlier this year, the New York Lottery started to get the word out.
Smith, a retired security officer, caught a news story about the search for the mystery winner. That inspired him to check his old tickets. He went up to the closet where the old shirt hung.
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.”
That was on May 23, 2017. He’d have been ineligible to collect after May 25, 2017.
On Wednesday, the New York Lottery released Smith’s name after completing a review.
“We are thrilled that this lucky winner was able to locate this life-changing ticket,” Dean, of the gaming commission, said. Smith chose to receive his payments over the course of 26 years.
A father of two and grandfather of 12, he said he plans to have an “all-family discussion” once things settle down.