Man finds a $24 million lottery ticket in an old shirt just in time

News 16/10/2017

Over a year ago 68-year old, Jimmie Smith bought a lottery ticket to the New York Lotto.

He never checked the ticket though until a year later.

In the pockets of an old shirt hanging in Jimmie's wardrobe was a stack of unchecked lottery tickets.

"I always told myself, 'I'll check them when I have the time,'" the New Jersey man said.

When he finally did have the time, over a year later he found out he'd won $24.1 million. If he'd waited two days longer it would have expired!

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.

"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, 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."

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.

CNN