As an avid fan of huge lottery jackpots, we're pretty sure that you're familiar with the El Gordo raffle that commands a prize pool of over €2 billion! Every year, near Christmas and for over 200 years, the numbers are drawn and thousands of lives are changed forever. Yet many enter, but never claim their raffle tickets.
For one raffle ticket seller, someone else's forgetful action will potentially make him a millionaire, if only he can avoid the legal red tape now laid out in front of him.
Early in 2012, a raffle ticket seller called Manuel Reija discovered a discarded ticket on his shop counter. Instead of tossing it in the bin, he decided to hang onto it, saying "I usually throw away the tickets I see lying around but this one surprised me because it was very well preserved, as if it had been ironed." Out of sheer curiosity, Reija then decided to check the numbers on the ticket scanning machine. What he saw next, made his legs wobble, as the numbers confirmed a win of €4.7 million.
"My face must have been a picture. I checked it twice, three times before I realised what I was holding in my hands." Now, it's a waiting game as Reija awaits the true owner of the raffle ticket to come forward and claim this immense prize. It's been over three years and quite soon, the ticket, and the money that comes with it, will be his to own. Whatever happens though, Reija has stressed that he will continue to work in his store.
The official Spanish lottery operator has said that he must give the original lotto ticket buyer a chance to come forward and claim the winnings. Over 200 people came forward and tried to prove that the ticket was theirs, but none could truly convince the lottery operator of this. While the claiming period has now expired, Reija must battle ten lawsuits of those claiming that the ticket is theirs. Unfortunately for him, it will take months, perhaps even years for these lawsuits to settle. With some luck, Reija will claim this ticket, the money and his moment of glory.
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