A retired security guard won a $24.1 million New York lottery jackpot that he was lucky enough to claim just TWO DAYS before his ticket expired.
Jimmie Smith, 68, told the gaming commission he’s been buying lottery tickets in New York and his native New Jersey since the 1960s — but the one time he actually won, he didn’t even realize.
Smith’s identity was released by New York LOTTO this week.
His $24.1 million jackpot from May 2016 sat idle for nearly a year before the East Orange, N.J., resident picked it up.
But he almost didn’t get it at all after sticking it in an old shirt pocket with “a stack” of unchecked, losing tickets, New York’s gaming commission said in a press release.
“I always told myself, ‘I’ll check them when I have the time,’” Smith told the commission.
He figured it was time to check after seeing a news report about the jackpot’s pending expiration as the one-year .
That’s when he dug out the May 2016 ticket featuring the winning numbers: 5 – 12 – 13 – 22 – 25 – 35.
“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,” the father of two and grandfather of 12 told the gaming commission. “I was in serious doubt. I really had to convince myself this was real.”
Nearly a year earlier, he bought the winning ticket in Tribeca at Renu Corp Grocery & Tobacco at 158 Church St. between Chambers and Reade Streets.
“I don’t remember who it was,” said owner Bobby Patel told the Daily News in May when the winner was announced. “I didn’t see the face or anything.”
Smith’s identity wasn’t released at the time — nor why it took him a year.
He elected to be paid out over a 26-year period, according to the gaming commission.
Smith plans to have an “all-family” meeting to discuss how the money will be split up, according to the gaming commission.
The universe was definitely on his side with this one!