Real winner of Mega Millions jackpot gets prize after store clerk ‘stole ticket’

A $3million (£2.3m) lottery winner whose ticket was 'stolen' by the store clerk who sold it to him has finally received his pay-out.

Paul Little from Massachusetts, US, had accidentally left his ticket behind at a Lakeville liquor store in January

Prosecutors claim 23-year-old Carly Nunes, who worked in the store, tried to cash in the prize for herself when she pocketed Little's ticket stub after it was handed in.

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At his cheque presentation Little told reporters: “A lot of things had to happen for me to be standing here today,” according to WCVB.

Little, a diesel engine mechanic from Lakeville, said he initially thought he had lost the ticket he received after purchasing two State Lottery Quick Picks for the Mega Millions Lottery and two for the Mass Cash lottery at Lakeville Market & Liquors.

About 45 minutes later another customer noticed that Little left without his ticket and returned the stub to Nunes, who pocketed it, prosecutors said.

Later that evening, Little’s winning Mass Millions numbers were called, and Nunes allegedly hatched a plot to claim the prize with the help of co-worker Joseph Reddem, 32, who drove her to the lottery headquarters.

Lottery officials quickly became suspicious when they noticed that the ticket appeared to be torn and burned, which Nunes said happened when she accidentally put it on a pipe.

Surveillance video in the lottery office also captured Nunes allegedly arguing with Reddem over the money.

Reddem allegedly made demands of the prize and Nunes told him she would “only pay him $200,000,” prosecutors said.

Nunes later admitted she did not buy the ticket, and surveillance video helped officials determine Little had purchased the ticket.

Little says the first thing he plans to do with his $3 million winnings is pay off the mortgage of his house and make some renovations.

He also plans to continue working and using the money to give back to his community.

“I know the church I go to, they’re in need of a heating system. So we’ll be working to contribute to that,” Little said.

Despite the attempt to relive him of his money, Little wished Nunes well.

According to MassLive he said: "I know, she’s put herself in a difficult spot. But hopefully, she’ll work her way to a better life,” Little said of Nunes, who now faces charges from the incident.

Nunes faces charges of larceny from a building, presentation of a false claim, and witness intimidation, according to the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office.

A judge ordered her held on $10,000 cash bail after she pleaded not guilty.

Reddem was charged with attempted extortion and released on his own recognizance.

He was ordered not to gamble or have contact with Nunes or any witnesses and is due back in court on July 28.

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