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Published: Friday, 1/9/2004

Odds are, she loses

It didn t take long to answer the $162 million dollar question. Earlier this week the Mega Millions mystery piqued national interest. Did 40-year-old Elecia Battle of Cleveland buy the winning ticket in the state s largest lottery jackpot and then lose it, as she claimed? Or was her story a bold plot to grab somebody else s pot of gold?

It was the latter, of course, but Ms. Battle took her own sweet time in telling the truth. She even had her lawyer file a lawsuit to block payment of the Mega Millions jackpot to the certified winner.

Even after a hospital worker in a suburb of Cleveland turned in the winning ticket at Ohio Lottery headquarters Tuesday, Ms. Battle was sticking to her story. Even after news of her petty criminal past and history of litigation, the would-be multimillionaire insisted she was wronged.

But the Ohio Lottery said it knew the truth all along. It validated Rebecca Jemison s ticket for the big prize without hesitation, saying she also provided a receipt from the convenience store marking the time the sole winning ticket for the 11-state jackpot was sold. After taxes her lump sum take-home pay will be an estimated $67.2 million.

Funny how winning and/or losing that amount of money can do strange things to people. When word spread of Ms. Battle s tragic lost ticket, people came to help - themselves.

Ms. Battle said she dropped her purse in the parking lot of the Quick Shop Food Mart last week after allegedly buying the ticket and only realized the ticket was missing after the drawing. Her misfortune attracted scores of parking lot searchers scouring the area with flashlights in the bitter winter cold.

But it turns out the impossible dreamer won nothing but trouble after finally admitting that she lied about the whole thing because “I wanted to win so bad for my kids and my family.”

Well, don t we all?

For trying to pull a con on police Ms. Battle is expected to be charged with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

It s not likely the rightful winner will put up a grand to help her out.



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