Julia Cervera had bought the winning ticket on May 30 at Michael's Market & Liquor but the prize of $23 million went unclaimed for months.
With the six-month deadline for claiming it closing in, lottery officials stepped up efforts to find the winners and released a photo of the woman who purchsed the ticket from surveillance video at the store to try to finally track her down.
Someone texted a photo of the winner to Cervera and she recognized her daughter Charliena Marquez. Cervera then went out to check the glove compartment of her car, where the winning ticket had been for nearly six months.
It was a long and winding road to winning millions, as Cervera and her daughter only stopped to get a bottle of water because Marquez felt sick.
Cervera asked her to buy a single $1 lotto ticket for her, which she did.
Other friends had actually told Marquez that she looked like the woman in the published photo but she'd dismissed them, not bothering to check the photo closely.
The big jackpot couldn't have come at a better time for Cervera and her family, as she claimed she'd been struggling for months to just pay the electric bill and take care of the four teenage children left behind when her son recently passed away.
She opted to take the one-time cash payment option of $17.8 million.
A similar situation happened in August when a $52 million lotto winner in California was only identified at the last minute after similar efforts from lotto officials.
As unbelievable as it may sound, California lottery officials said more than $20 million in winning lotto tickets went unclaimed last year.