f you won the lottery, what would you buy first? Would you splurge on a sports car and 10,000-square-foot mansion? Or would you go the responsible route, putting it in savings or donating a large sum to charity?
We've all had our own lotto dreams during lean financial times, and while it can be fun to think about, no one actually expects to ever win.
But one man won without even realizing it, and because of some seriously crazy circumstances, was two days away from being just another dreamer.
Jimmie Smith is a 68-year-old resident of East Orange, New Jersey.
Although he’s been a regular buyer of lottery tickets since the 1960s, he had never been the type to check to see if he’s won right away.
“I always told myself, ‘I’ll check them when I have time,'” Smith told People.
So on May 25, 2016, when the New York Lottery announced the $24.1 million jackpot–winning numbers, he told himself the same thing.
While Smith planned on checking the tickets he’d bought a few days before the drawing, life happened. He just got sidetracked.
Months passed, and while it was verified that someone had in fact purchased the winning ticket, still no one came forward to claim their prize.
Smith forgot all about the ticket until a special segment on the local evening news stopped him dead in his tracks.
It was about the New York Lottery’s efforts to find the mysterious winning LOTTO player before the one-year deadline came and forced them to forfeit the jackpot.
Suddenly, Smith ran over to where he’d hung his favorite shirt, which had a pocket full of unchecked tickets. He quickly began rifling through them.
“I ended up with a stack," Smith said.
“A pile of tickets, including the one they were talking about on the news.”
“I stood there for a minute thinking, ‘Do I see what I think I see?’”
"I had to stick my head out the window and breathe in some fresh air."
“I was in serious doubt. I really had to convince myself this was real.”
Smith, the father of two and grandfather of 12, had won $24.1 million dollars. Nearly a year ago.