A man from New Jersey has pocketed a cool $24 million lottery ticket win – and his winning strategy was to forget about it for a long, long time. The jackpot win was announced in May 2016, which led to a dramatic press release being issued to find the winner before the ticket became worthless. Luckily, he spotted the news just in time!
When it comes to winning the lottery, most people tend to go one of two routes: either shout about it from the rooftops and soak up the fame, or keep very quiet and only tell very close family and friends – if anyone. However, some people are unfortunately unaware that they have actually won.
And they go about their lives oblivious to the fact that they're walking around with a piece of paper worth millions. This is exactly what happened to 68 year old Jimmie Smith from New Jersey. Over a year ago, Mr Smith bought a New York Lottery ticket, a usual practice that he performs on a weekly basis.
However, there's something you should know about Jimmie: he always stuffs the tickets in the pocket of his old coat, leaving them there to check 'On a rainy day'. However, his method of collecting and not checking his tickets had become something of a problem – he had started to never, ever get around to the rainy day:
"I always told myself, 'I'll check them when I have the time'."
So, for almost a year, the tickets in the jacket built up and up – including one with the numbers 05, 12, 13, 22, 25 and 35. Unbeknown to Mr Smith, the New York Gaming Commission had announced that these numbers had won the jackpot – and there was only one winner, paying out a huge $24 million for the draw held in May 2016.
However, as the months went by, the Commission became concerned that the cash wouldn't be claimed, since winners only have a year to cash in winning tickets. Eventually, the New York State Lottery made a press release, asking people to check their pockets, just in case they had forgotten about the 'golden' ticket:
"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."
As fate would have it, Mr Smith managed to catch the news about the missing lottery ticket. It finally promped him to check all those lottery tickets in his coat pocket on May 25, 2017, just two days before the deadline. Smith, a former security guard, revealed that he could hardly believe his eyes:
"When the numbers matched up, 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."
Mr Smith, a grandfather of 12, chose to receive the payments over a duration of 26 years, giving him a lifetime of income and preventing the temptation to blow the money all at once. According to experts, taking annual payments instead of a lump sum pays dividends in the long run.
This is all due to a surprisingly high number of lottery winners who win millions end up in financial difficulty within a few years of living the high life. It's thought that winning millions of pounds in one go is simply too much for people to handle, leaving them unable to manage spending and wisely invest their money.
When it comes to his winning strategy (if you can call it a 'strategy'), Smith's tactic seems to have been to buy the ticket, relax, forget about it and simply let 'lady luck' work her magic. However, while it's a nice story, it very nearly cost the lucky winner the whole $24 million payout.
This story is a word of warning for any lotto player who buys a ticket and then leaves it in a pocket or down the back of the sofa. One reason why people forget to check their ticket seems to be that they subconsciously don't think they're ever going to win the jackpot, so they buy a ticket and end up forgetting about it!
However, Mr Smith's incredible jackpot win shows every lottery player that it really could happen to them. Now, the odds of winning a lottery draw of this magnitude will make you cringe but it doesn't mean it's not worth trying; players who head to TheLotter today can enjoy lottery draws from all around the world!