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After California Lottery's 5-month search, winner claims $23 million prize

Janet Zappala / NBCLosAngeles.com

Julie Cervera addresses a news conference Friday in San Bernardino, Calif., where she accepted her $23 million lottery jackpot.

Five months after the winning ticket was sold and with only 25 days left to claim the prize, the California Lottery has finally found its mystery $23 million SuperLotto Plus jackpot winner: Julie Cervera, 69, of Victorville.

The disabled widow with short light hair, surrounded by children and grandchildren, accepted her check on Friday and basked in the media glow, NBCLosAngeles.com reported.

"It hasn't hit me yet, but I'm gonna get me some Nikes," she said.

With the rest of the money, she said she'd take care of two close friends and her numerous grandchildren, NBCLosAngeles.com reported. She's also planning to buy a house for her daughter who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

A surveillance image showing her daughter, Charliena Cervera, running into Michael's Market & Liquor in Palmdale was released as part of the lottery's search for the winner of its May 30 drawing, California Lottery officials told NBC News.

California Lottery

Charliena Cervera is seen in a Palmdale, Calif., market surveillance video running into the store to buy what turned out to be a $23 million jackpot-winning lottery ticket.

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They had stopped for water driving home from Palmdale, and Julie Cervera gave her daughter money for the the ticket and stuck it in the car's glove compartment.

"She just never checked the ticket," Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said Thursday. "Her daughter took a picture of her photo in the newspaper and sent it to her mother, she went to her car and found the ticket."

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If the ticket had not been redeemed by Nov. 26, the winnings would have been transferred to California schools, NBCLosAngeles.com reported.

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The winning ticket numbers were 14, 7, 26, 31, 23 and Mega 5.

The store's manager, Ben Sadi, told the San Bernardino Sun the market had already received its $115,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.

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