According to US media, a woman who claims to have purchased the winning ticket in a $26 million (£18.5 million) California Lottery draw says she left it in a trouser pocket and destroyed it in the wash. The winning SuperLotto Plus ticket was purchased in November at a convenience store in the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk.
The woman, who has not been identified, was reportedly caught on CCTV purchasing a ticket at the time. However, the deadline for claiming the large prize passed on Thursday.
According to lottery organizers, the prize must be redeemed within 180 days of the draw, which took place on November 14. Esperanza Hernandez, a store employee in Norwalk, told the Whittier Daily News in California that a woman came in on Wednesday claiming to be the prize-winning ticket holder, but that she had lost the ticket and feared she had accidentally washed it.
Cathy Johnston, a spokeswoman for the California Lottery, the store footage would not be enough to substantiate the woman’s claim, and that “compelling substantial proof you had the ticket” was required. Ms Johnston confirmed that a copy of the video was shared with the lottery organizers and that the claim is being investigated further.
The winning numbers in November’s unclaimed draw were 23, 36, 12, 31, 13, and a “mega number” of 10. The Los Angeles Times reported, citing the competition’s organizers, that it is extremely rare for winning ticket holders in the California Lottery not to come forward. It is not the first time that people have claimed to have purchased winning lottery tickets that they were later unable to produce.