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Girl Finds Lottery Ticket, Wins $10,000

July 22, 1993

WINCHENDON, Mass. (AP) _ ″Finders, keepers″ is the motto at the home of Ricci and Linda Ruschioni, who collected a $10,000 jackpot after their 8-year-old daughter spotted an unscratched lottery ticket in a parking lot.

″Fate, whatever you want to call it,″ the father said Thursday, explaining the family’s decision to keep the prize money. ″Somebody else was going to walk down and find the same ticket.″

Traci, the couple’s daughter, found the ticket in the parking lot of a local video store Monday evening. She and her mother then went home, where Traci scratched the boxes. The game involves scratching off all the boxes to see if any numbers underneath match the winning number.

Mrs. Ruschioni thought the ticket might be a winner, so she took it to a liquor store and confirmed the lucky news. The next morning, the Ruschionis collected their winnings at the Massachusetts Lottery office in Worcester.

″I told the kids we could splurge, but not to expect it all the time,″ Mrs. Ruschioni said.

For Traci, the prize money meant she could get some toys and a new cage for her pet birds. The family also plans to make a return trip this winter to Disney World.

Ruschioni, a firefighter, says he’ll also use the money to ″get ourselves out of a hole and pay our bills up.″

Of course, the Ruschionis’ fortune equals someone else’s misfortune. But the father said, ″My daughter did nothing wrong. I haven’t lost any sleep.″

Ruschioni said he spoke Wednesday with a woman who said her husband lost the lucky lottery ticket but wouldn’t give her name.

As far as the Massachusetts Lottery is concerned, the matter is closed.

″These are unscratched tickets that were found,″ Deirdre Coyle, a lottery spokeswoman, said. The lottery is obligated to pay whomever holds the ticket and signs it as long as the ticket wasn’t acquired illegally, she said.

Coyle said there is a procedure for investigating lost tickets before they are claimed. But once they’re claimed, there’s no recourse for the person who lost the ticket, she said.

Coyle also said Thursday that no one had come forward to claim the ticket, before or after the Ruschionis collected their money.

For Traci, there was a simple explanation for her good fortune.

″I might be magic,″ she said.

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