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.

The lucky player's name was to be announced at a news conference Friday in Newark.

The ticket for the multistate lottery was sold the day of the drawing at Krauser's convenience store in Montvale, N.J. The winning numbers were 6, 7, 25, 34 and 45, and the Big Money Ball number 2.

The ticket had been validated by a lottery ticket seller June 7, the day it was mailed along with a copy of the claim form. The form suggests winners of tickets worth $600 or more mail them in.

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.''