Grandma Claims Lotto Just in Time

$23M ticket sat in her car for months

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Nov 3, 2012 5:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – For more than five months—while Julie Cervera struggled to pay a $600 electrical bill, feed her family and keep the cable company from shutting off her service because she couldn't pay—she was a millionaire without knowing it. Meanwhile, her $23 million lottery ticket languished forgotten in the glove compartment of her car. On Thursday, someone texted her a photo of her daughter, Charliena Marquez, buying the winning ticket for her at a Palmdale Liquor store. The photo had been released by lottery officials searching for the mysterious winner of the May drawing.

"I put my 99-cent glasses on, and I had to put two pairs on to see it," said 69-year-old Cervera. Back in May, mother and daughter were driving home together when Marquez felt queasy and asked her mother to pull over so she could buy a bottle of water. Cervera asked her daughter to buy her a lottery ticket, and in the glove compartment it went. "I've got like 200 tickets laying around my house," she said. "I never check my tickets." Cervera is going to take a one-time cash payment of $17.8 million.

Julie Cervera, third from left, is surrounded by family members in San Bernardino, Calif., Friday, Nov. 2, 2012.   (Damian Dovarganes)
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