Human Interest Michigan Woman, 55, Finds $3M Lottery Prize in Her Spam Folder: 'Still So Shocking' Laura Spears plans to retire early after getting lucky in the Mega Millions lottery By Jason Hahn Jason Hahn Jason Hahn is a former Human Interest and Sports Reporter for PEOPLE. He started at PEOPLE's Los Angeles Bureau as a writer and reporter in 2017 and interviewed the likes of Kobe Bryant, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Brady. He has a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University. He previously worked for Complex Magazine in New York City. People Editorial Guidelines Published on January 24, 2022 04:16PM EST Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Michigan Lottery While most spam folders are filled with unwanted advertisements and emails, one woman found a life-changing message hidden amongst the junk. Michigan resident Laura Spears, 55, entered the Mega Millions lottery on the Michigan Lottery website on Dec. 31 and won $1 million by matching five winning numbers: 02-05-30-46-61, organizers said. And if winning $1 million wasn't enough, her prize was then tripled to $3 million thanks to her matching the lottery's "multiplier" bonus. But there was just one issue — Spears didn't know any of this since the emailed notification that she had won ended up in her email account's junk folder. Spears wouldn't find out about the prize until she opened her junk folder while looking for an unrelated message from someone. "I saw an ad on Facebook that the Mega Millions jackpot was getting pretty high, so I got on my account and bought a ticket," Spears, who did not immediately respond when reached by PEOPLE, recalled to the lottery. "A few days later, I was looking for a missing email from someone, so I checked the spam folder in my email account." Michigan Man, 29, Wins $2 Million from Scratch-Off Lottery Ticket After Losing 'Everything in a Flood' "That's when I saw an email from the Lottery saying I had won a prize," she continued. Naturally, Spears said she didn't think the email was real, so she took steps to confirm it for herself by logging into the lottery's website. "I couldn't believe what I was reading, so I logged in to my Lottery account to confirm the message in the email. It's all still so shocking to me that I really won $3 million!" she said. Spears recently claimed the money after visiting the lottery's headquarters, and now plans to use the $3 million to retire early. She also plans to gift some of the winnings to her family. Mass. Woman Wins $2 Million Lottery Prize — and Plans to Use It to Help Those in Need This Winter "I definitely added the Michigan Lottery to my safe senders list just in case I ever get lucky enough to receive another email about a huge prize," she said. RELATED VIDEO: Man Wins $60 Million Lottery After Playing with the Same Numbers for More Than 20 Years Of course, winning a large amount of money can be life-changing for anyone, but the moment can prove to be troublesome for many. To avoid major obstacles, lottery winners should first secure the ticket and retain the services of a financial planner, according to the Associated Press. The winner can step forward for up to 180 days or for up to a year after the drawing, based on the state's rules.