January 06, 2004
Have you seen this lottery ticket?

It's pretty much gotta suck to lose a winning lottery ticket worth $162 million.

CLEVELAND -- A $162 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot belongs to a woman who says she lost the winning ticket, even if someone else finds it, her lawyer argued today.

Several people have searched through the snow in a convenience store parking lot where Elecia Battle said she lost the ticket.

Battle intends to make a case that the winning ticket for the 11-state game is her lost property, said lawyer Sheldon Starke.

"This is a question of lost property, not abandoned property," he said. "If there is one type of property that is not presumed to be abandoned, it's money ... Anyone who finds it is not the owner."

Battle, 40, of Cleveland, filed a police report saying she dropped her purse when she left the Quick Shop Food Mart last week after buying the ticket at the store in suburban South Euclid. She said she realized after the Dec. 30 drawing that the ticket was missing.

The Ohio Lottery confirmed that the winning ticket was sold at the store.

She seems credible and all, but good luck with that possession-is-nine-tenths doctrine.

After news of Battle's police report spread Monday night, people armed with flashlights trudged through the snow trying to find the ticket in the parking lot.

"I decided to come back to see if I could find the winning ticket," said LaVerne Coleman, 57, who said she would keep the winnings if she found the ticket.

Police Lt. Kevin Nieter said the family may be out of luck if someone else found the ticket.

"Whoever has the ticket has the right to stake the claim to the winning jackpot. You can file all the police reports you want, but it's not going to help," he told WEWS-TV on Monday.

Ohio Lottery spokeswoman Mardele Cohen said that if someone else came in with the ticket, Battle could try to get a temporary restraining order in court to block the winnings from being paid.

You know, I wouldn't want to admit in public that I'm the kind of person who would take advantage of someone else's misfortune like this. Whether I believe Ms. Battle's claim or not, I sure as heck know I didn't buy that ticket. I guess maybe I could convince myself that Battle's a liar and whoever really bought that ticket carelessly lost it and doesn't care about that, but it'd take quite a bit of work. It's a whole lot of money, and I suppose one can buy an awful lot of guilt alleviators with it, but I just have this vision of being haunted by the real ticket owner if I claimed the jackpot. (Is that a Catholic thing, or an I-read-"The Telltale Heart"-at-too-young-an-age thing? Help me out here.)

Anyway. I can't say this is high on my list of things to worry about, but for what it's worth, I hope Ms. Battle finds her ticket.

UPDATE: Well, it's just gotten more interesting, as a different woman has shown up with the ticket and claimed the prize. Looks like it'll be up to the lawyers to sort it all out. Thanks to Matt in the comments for finding this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 06, 2004 to Jackpot! | TrackBack


I think it's an I-read-"The Telltale Heart"-at-too-young-an-age thing. A Catholic would most likely donate a part of his/her winnings to the church.

If the store has a security camera, it can verify what time Ms. Battle was in the store and then check the computer for what time the ticket was sold. Even if she did actually buy the ticket, you have to sign the back with your name and address before you have any claim to the money. This means that the person that finds the ticket can legally claim it.

Posted by: William Hughes on January 6, 2004 10:10 AM

Apparently, the ticket has been turned in.

Posted by: Matt on January 6, 2004 10:48 AM

The Smoking Gun has posted the police report.


I won't make any comments, just shake my head softly at the officer's command of written English...


Posted by: katy on January 6, 2004 1:05 PM

Possession is 9 points of English common law. There were 100 points. So it's a 9% deal, not 90%. Oddly enough, My Real Property professor was nonplussed when I corrected him in class.

Posted by: JDC on January 6, 2004 9:45 PM

JDC, I stand corrected. Whatever the actual percentage is, I think the actual ticketholder is going to be the winner here, and that seems right to me given what I've read.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 7, 2004 7:16 AM