Calif. Woman Claims She Ran Her $26 Million Lottery Ticket Through a Washing Machine

The prize money from the unclaimed winning ticket will now go to California's public schools

washing machine
Photo: Getty

A California woman says she was the lucky winner of a $26 million lottery ticket — but accidentally ran it through a washing machine before she could cash it in.

On Thursday, when the final time came to redeem the winning California Lottery SuperLotto Plus ticket for the Nov. 14 drawing, no one showed up to claim the prize, which had been sold at an Arco AM/PM convenience store, according to the Associated Press.

But the unidentified woman, who believes she may have been the winner, returned to the store in the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk on Wednesday, and told employees that she had put her ticket in her pants before placing them in the wash, store employee Esperanza Hernandez told Whittier Daily News.

The store's manager, who was only identified as Frank, told KTLA-TV that surveillance video from within the store showed the person who bought the winning ticket in November, and that store workers know her. The surveillance video was reportedly turned over to California Lottery officials.

Catherine Johnston, a spokesperson for the California Lottery, tells PEOPLE that she is unable to confirm anything regarding the story about the washing machine, as the woman did not contact her office. Johnston says that if the woman filed a claim, it will be investigated.

The winning numbers of the lottery were 23, 36, 12, 31, 13, and the mega number of 10, according to a California Lottery news release. The large sum of prize money can then be taken as either a $19.7 million cash option or in annual installments, the AP reported.

AmPm store

The owners of the store have already received $130,000 for having sold the winning ticket, KNBC reported.

Since the prize money has not been claimed, the $19.7 million will now go to California's public schools, according to the news release. Currently, California public schools have received more than $1 billion from unclaimed lottery prizes.

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Lottery officials also said that an individual who believes that they are a winner must complete a claim form, which can be found online, at any of more than 23,000 Lottery retailers in the state and at the Lottery's district offices.

There are then multiple ways to claim the prize, the California Lottery news release notes, including pre-scheduling an appointment at any of the lottery's offices for in-person help or by returning the signed claim form and the winning ticket at the office's secure dropbox.

If the individual who won cannot travel to one of the offices, the signed claim form and winning ticket can also be mailed in.

But, should someone lose a ticket, they must provide evidence that they owned it, such as a photograph of the front and back of the ticket, the officials said, per KTLA.

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