One day after a $12.5 million lottery drawing, convenience store clerk Ionia Klein found a discarded ticket behind the counter with all the right numbers and made it her own.
She paid for it, signed it, laid claim to the jackpot and was declared the winner.But she may have quit her job too quickly.
State lottery officials are not contesting the win, but the store's owners and another clerk are: They're suing for the money.
The computer-generated Lotto America ticket was issued April 4 by a clerk at Mr. G's, a store in Gregory. The clerk thought a customer wanted a $5 ticket. The customer - who wanted five $1 tickets - refused to pay.
The ticket was left behind the counter. When Klein opened the store April 7 - the day after the drawing - she found the ticket.
"I looked at it, and all the numbers matched, so I bought it," Klein said. She submitted it to state lottery officials and was named the winner.
But two couples who own the store sued, accusing Klein of stealing the ticket. Scott and Julie Anshutz and Michael and Diane Dacy claimed the ticket belonged to them because Lotto America requires store owners to pay for misprints.
Then the clerk who printed the ticket entered the fray. Robin Parsons said it was her responsibility to pay for the ticket because she made the mistake. She included a $5 check in the legal papers served on the store owners.
Klein at first said she bought the ticket before the drawing but eventually admitted the truth. Still, she said she'd done nothing illegal because the ticket was issued before the drawing and had not been paid for by anyone else.
State lottery officials agree, citing regulations that say the person who signs the ticket is the winner.