On Monday, the deadline passed for an unknown $77 million lottery winner in Georgia to claim the prize. Unbelievable as that may have been, officials in Iowa had a similar situation — days before the deadline, a Hot Lotto ticket worth $16.5 million was still unaccounted for.

But no more. In a squeaker of epic proportions, an attorney for the unnamed winner stepped forward with the valuable little slip of paper on Thursday, just two hours before it would’ve been worthless.

Iowa Lottery Chief Executive Terry Rich said while he doesn’t yet know the reason for the year-long delay, he’s anxious to find out more. “We look forward to learning the details we’ve all been wondering about these many months,” he said. “Every winner’s situation is different, and it’s always fun to hear the story.”

The winner will of course have to jump through a series of security hoops, but even assuming he or she can do so, they won’t pocket the entire prize — 25 percent will go to Uncle Sam, and Iowa state taxes will eat up another five percent.

Still, not a bad return on a $1 investment.


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