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