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Lotto winner ticket found in cookie jar

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   May 16, 2013 at 3:22 PM   |   Comments

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May 16 (UPI) -- An Illinois man is thanking his lucky stars he checked some old lottery tickets before chucking them in the trash.

Ricardo Cerezo's wife told him she was planning to toss some old lottery tickets he had stashed in a cookie jar, and he got a big surprise when one turned out to be a winner.

The ticket, purchased back in February, simply read "file a claim," Cerezo told NBC Chicago.

"Not a congratulations, not an amount, just said 'file a claim,'" he said.

As it happened, that claim was worth $4.85 million.

For Cerezo and his wife, the money -- and the cookie jar -- hold particularly special significance.

The couple's 14-year-old daughter Savannah had purchased the cookie jar, and then died a few months later as a result of a series of seizures. The Cerezos have since struggled to keep their life on track and their home pending foreclosure as they mourned their child.

"The honest first reaction was mammoth regret. Regret because our youngest wasn't here to enjoy this," Cerezo said.

The family will use their new millions to pay off their mortgage, pay for college for their son and daughter, and donate a portion of money to charity.

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