Lottery winner close to losing £180k winnings after throwing ticket in the bin

A lottery winner in America almost missed out on a six-figure sum after she nearly threw out the golden ticket.

Jacqueline Leigh, a 60-year-old woman from North Carolina, who lives in a small town called Roper, bought a £5 ticket from a local food market but admits she didn't think she'd won the big prize.

Little did she know she had $200,000 (£180,000) coming her way but only found out after double checking her numbers before she binned it.

She told UPI: "I really was about to throw it away, but I went back and looked at it again and that's when I discovered it. I was so excited. I think I shouted."

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She then phoned her daughter, who was also in disbelief.

"I told my daughter and she said, 'Mom are you for real,'" Leigh added. "I've never won anything like this before. It's a blessing."

Leigh picked up her winnings from the lottery headquarters on Wednesday (October 5). Her total, after required state and federal tax withholdings, meant the eventual grand total was $142,021 (£128,000). She said her plan was now to pay off her car and sort her bills in advance.

The Hot 5's, which was the lottery she entered, has five top prizes of $200,000. Three of these have yet to be claimed. That is nothing new – the largest ever unclaimed jackpot in the US was a whopping $77 million in the state of Georgia. At the time, this Powerball jackpot would've converted to a massive £67.5 million.

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The UK's biggest unclaimed jackpot was in 2012 for a staggering £63.8 million after a Euromillions ticket was bought in Hertfordshire, but not picked up, according to records. As recently as August £20m worth of prizes were yet to be claimed, said the National Lottery.

In the UK all National Lottery tickets remain valid for 180 days. Winners can still claim a prize in person within seven days after this period has ended. All unclaimed prizes are donated to the Good Causes Fund if they still have not been paid out at the end of the claim period.

Earlier this week Camelot, the lottery operator, stated that a £5m prize in the UK had still not be claimed from September. Andy Carter, senior winners' adviser at The National Lottery, said that finding the ticket "could be life-changing".

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