Believe it or not, a woman from New York has finally come forward to claim a $12 million lottery jackpot that had remained unclaimed for over three decades.

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Janet Valenti, aged 77, recently revealed to local lottery officials that she was the rightful winner of the massive $12 million dollar prize, which had gone unnoticed since 1991.

Valenti shared the story behind the unfortunate fate of the winning ticket, which ultimately denied her the opportunity to collect her life-changing winnings.

According to reports, Valenti had placed the winning lottery ticket on an end table next to her couch, along with some other tickets. Under the assumption that she had already checked all the tickets, Valenti tossed them in the trash as she prepared to leave home with her two teenagers and mother for a weekend getaway in July of 1991.

Valenti only realized her mistake when she returned home and learned from a friend that a winning $12 million Lotto ticket had been sold in Staten Island. Valenti rushed to find her ticket in the trash, not realizing that her neighbor had already put it out for pickup, making it impossible for her to retrieve the ticket.

Desperate to claim her prize, Valenti contacted lawyers for help but learned that the lottery's official rules required the presentation of a physical ticket to claim the jackpot. Even obtaining surveillance footage from the retailer wouldn't help Valenti's situation.

Valenti says the loss of the $12 million lottery prize had a profound impact on her, She says that it haunted her for a long time. However, she found herself reading stories about the so-called "lottery curses," which tell of misfortunes some lottery winners experienced after their windfall. That helped her not feel so bad about what happened.

Even though she lost out on $12 million, Valenti has never given up trying to win again and continues to play the Lotto to this day.

SEE ALSO: Rules Lottery Winners in New York Are Required To Follow

The unclaimed $12 million Lotto jackpot, which Valenti missed out on, holds the distinction of being the largest unclaimed prize in the history of New York. The winning numbers for the draw on July 17, 1991, were 2, 3, 6, 43, and 51. The ticket had been purchased for just $1 at J.N.J. Delicatessen in Graniteville.

According to New York Lottery spokesperson Bill Knowlton, some winners delay claiming their prizes for various reasons, but in Valenti's case, the unfortunate throwing away of her winning ticket was a one-in-a-million occurrence.

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