N.J. man claims $24.1M lottery jackpot just 2 days before expiration
A 68-year-old New Jersey man claimed a $24.1 million New York lottery jackpot two days before the ticket was due to expire after seeing a story on the evening news about how time was running out for the winner to step forward.
Jimmie Smith, of East Orange, went to his closet where an old, favorite shirt with a pocket full of unchecked tickets was hung.
Remarkably, the retired security guard found the lucky ticket he had just seen discussed on television.
“I ended up with a stack — a pile of tickets, including the one they were talking about on the news,” the father of two and grandfather of 12 told lottery officials. “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.”
Though Smith stepped forward on May 23, New York lottery officials waited until Wednesday to announce him as the winner. Officials said in the spring that the prize had been claimed and that the winner would revealed “in the near future pending completion of the Lottery’s security background review.”
Smith told lottery officials he’s been buying tickets in New Jersey and New York since the 1960s, but has never been in a rush to see if they’re winners.
“I always told myself, ‘I’ll check them when I have the time,’ ” he said.
Smith decided to take the annuity, meaning he’ll receive the money in laddered payments over 26 years instead of taking a lump sum for a lesser amount.
The winning numbers were 5, 12, 13, 22, 25, and 35. Smith bought the ticket at a grocery and tobacco shop at 158 Church Street in the Tribecca neighborhood in Lower Manhattan.
Lotto is similar to the Pick 6 in New Jersey — a player must match all six numbers to hit the jackpot. Smaller prizes aware awarded for matching three, four or five numbers.