LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — You have to be in it to win it, as the saying goes. But one Los Angeles woman was in danger of being in it, and still losing it.

Days away from losing out on a $23 million jackpot, a mystery winner stepped forward Wednesday to claim her top prize.

The woman won the Super Lotto jackpot months ago — but just found out today. There is an 180-day grace period from the date of the draw to the deadline the winner must claim the prize.

CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Amanda Burden said the mystery had been raging for five months.

Lottery officials did not release the woman’s name, but said she went numb after seeing her picture in the paper. The unidentified woman, apparently bought the ticket for her 70-year-old mother. The mom reportedly stashed the ticket in the glove compartment of her car. And the winning ticket had been sitting in the woman’s car since May!

The mother immediately walked into a San Bernardino Lottery Office to place her claim.

The daughter purchased the winning ticket, for $1, at Michael’s Market and Liquor in Palmdale.

CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Melissa McCarty spoke to Ben Sadi, the store’s owner. Sadi is thrilled for the customer … and his store as well. As the seller of the winner ticket, his store gets a check, too. “We got a bonus. We received a check from Lotto for $115,000.”

All of the liquor store employees got a bonus in their checks. “After we sold the jackpot ticket,” says Sadi, “my business went up. It helped my business a lot. I have people coming [from] all over town.”

Everyone had been talking about the unclaimed ticket. Palmdale resident Jerry Strand said, “We were in the lottery for the $23 million that day — thought we were millionaires for about five minutes so we figured we better keep playing.”

Lottery officials said the mother has a large family — which includes adopted special needs children. She’s also raising her son’s children after he was killed in an accident.

The mystery winner told Lottery officials the money is coming at a time when her family needs it most. She had just overdrawn her checking account and didn’t know how much longer she could support her family, reported Burden.

The mystery woman plans on revealing herself Friday at an afternoon news conference.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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