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Winning $46M Lottery Ticket in Mail

June 15, 2001

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Three days after lottery officials said no one had stepped forward to claim a year-old $46 million Big Game jackpot _ the winning ticket arrived in the mail.

New Jersey lottery officials said they received the winning ticket from the June 9, 2000, lottery drawing Tuesday. The letter, sent to the lottery’s Trenton headquarters, was postmarked on June 7 _ two days before the one-year deadline for claiming the prize.

``It wasn’t even (sent via) certified or insured mail,″ Lottery spokeswoman Annette Jenkins said Thursday. ``It’s amazing.″

The ticket is worth $23.7 million because the buyer chose the lump-sum payment option.

Lottery officials would not identify the winner, whose name will be announced by acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco at a news conference Friday in Newark.

The ticket for the multistate lottery was sold at the Krauszer’s convenience store in Montvale on June 9, 2000 _ the day of the drawing. The winning numbers were 6, 7, 25, 34 and 45, and the Big Money Ball number 2.

The winner called the store Friday morning to thank owner Hemang Patel, said the store owner’s sister, Dipita Patel.

``He called here and said, `Thank you for the ticket,‴ she said. ``He said, `You’ll see me on TV at about noon.‴ She said he did not give his name.

Lottery officials said the winner went to a lottery ticket agent June 7 with a stack of tickets they wanted run through a lottery machine to check for winners. Patel said he did not go to her store to validate the ticket.

When one came up positive, the agent suggested that the winner send it to Trenton, as the claim form tells a winner to do for tickets worth $600 or more.

If the prize had not been claimed, the money would have gone to New Jersey and the other six states that participate in the game: Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Illinois, Virginia and Georgia.

Shannon Cadres, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts lottery, told The New York Times the ticket had been reviewed, and ``This is clearly a valid claim under New Jersey rules. We are thrilled that the Big Game prize has been claimed.″

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On the Net:

New Jersey Lottery: http://www.state.nj.us/lottery

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