$23M lottery winner comes forward

Julia Cervera says she forgot about ticket

PALMDALE, Calif. - California Lottery officials Friday introduced the holder of a $23 million SuperLotto Plus ticket who was the subject of a media blitz dedicated to finding her before the ticket  expired and the winnings were lost.

The campaign worked.

Sixty-nine-year-old widow Julia Cervera came forward after her daughter, Charliena Borunda, recognized herself as the woman in a televised surveillance photo who bought the ticket May 30 at a Palmdale liquor store.

Borunda remembered that she had bought the ticket at Michael's Market & Liquor in Palmdale and given it to her mother.

She alerted Cervera, who fortunately still had the ticket stashed in her car's glove compartment.

She quickly checked and found it there, and now she is $23 million richer.

At the news conference introducing her, Cervera told reporters that when she received Borunda's call, she first thought her daughter was playing a prank by asking if she was hiding something.

"She says, 'I'm going to text you a picture and you tell me who it is.' So I put (on) my 99-cent, dollar glasses, and I have to put (on) two pairs to see, and it was Charliena," Cervera said. "And I thought she robbed a bank."

Cervera, a Victorville resident, said she double-checked the ticket at a local retailer.

"He just said, 'Wow,'" Cervera said. "Then he gave me a copy of the numbers from that night."

Cervera claimed the prize Thursday, 25 days before it was due to expire.

She has decided to take the $17.8 million cash option.

Cervera -- who said she had just a dollar in her purse when she discovered she won the jackpot and who recently had her cable television shut off -- said she will devote a major portion of the prize money to family members, including two special-needs children she adopted.

She said she plans to splurge a little, however, by paying for a family trip to Disneyland.
 

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