By CBSLA Staff

NORWALK (CBSLA) — Time has officially run out for the winner of a $26 million lottery ticket to come forward and claim their prize.

The drawing in question happened six months ago, but Thursday was the last day the prize can be claimed. If it’s not, the money will go to public schools. (CBSLA)

Earlier on Thursday, Martin Lopez checked about a dozen lottery tickets at an ARCO AM/PM in Norwalk, hoping he was the winner of a $26 million Super Lotto Plus jackpot.

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But the workers at the gas station said they already know the identity of the woman who bought the winning ticket and have seen her on security video given to California Lottery officials.

The workers said that woman recently came back to the store and said she accidentally lost the ticket in her laundry.

“Oh my God,” Lopez said. “I don’t think I have words for that. I know that I’d be very upset.”

Bobby Henley, a gas station regular, said he randomly ran into a woman at the gas station who said her coworker was the one who purchased it and told him what happened.

“Her clothes were washed and when she pulled it out, it was all crumpled up into little pieces and she said she frantically tried to put it back together, but she couldn’t,” Henley said she told him.

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The drawing in question happened six months ago, but Thursday was the last day the prize can be claimed. If it’s not, the money will go to public schools.

“This is the store I always play in and somebody lost the ticket for that much money,” Donny Brown, another lottery player, said. “I think that’s the best place for it to go, back to the schools.”

As for Lopez, he ended up with a replay ticket and $16 on a second ticket.

“I feel good, because it wasn’t a total loss,” he said.

Lottery officials said retail store surveillance cameras could not be used to verify the winner. The winner must either present the ticket or a photographs of the front and back of the ticket to claim the prize.

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As for the store, it has already received its $130,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket. A potential winner can file a claim for an investigation.