Say you play Lotto every month like Jason Shauf and his uncle. Say you spend about $100 or more a month on tickets, hoping and praying to win one of the big ones.
Well, Shauf’s day came . . . and went.
Shauf, a 31-year-old physical therapist from Los Angeles, and his uncle, Paul Manarang of Mission Viejo, split a $3 ticket that eventually won a Quick Pick jackpot of $139,595.
But they misplaced the ticket. Months later, Manarang found the ticket while cleaning his car. The discovery was just two days before the 180-day claim deadline. When Shauf turned it in three days later, on Dec. 21, 1990, in Van Nuys, he was told he missed the deadline by one day.
The late claim was called “the largest” in Lotto history, said Joanne McNabb, a Lotto spokeswoman in Sacramento.
“I don’t think I can remember when someone has won a jackpot that big and didn’t get it because they missed the deadline,” McNabb said.
Instead of winning big money, Shauf received a letter from lottery officials. It said that based on a review, “your claim cannot be honored,” said Rick L. Eby, a Laguna Niguel attorney whom Shauf has hired to challenge the ruling.
The letter, dated Feb. 6, says: “Our review shows your claim was received at the District Office on Dec. 21, 1990. The final date to claim your winning ticket was Dec. 20, 1990, 180 days after the draw date. Therefore, according to Government Code, your claim for $139,595 cannot be honored.”
Shauf said that he plays Lotto religiously and usually keeps track of every single ticket. But he and his uncle bought that ticket, for a June 23, 1990, drawing while both were visiting friends in San Francisco.
Shauf’s dream is to win a Lotto jackpot to help him buy a home. He and his wife and baby daughter live in a rented apartment in Los Angeles.
Manarang, who comes from a poor family in the Philippines, has told his nephew he would like to help his relatives, especially a brother who needs dialysis treatments.
Shauf said that during the visit to San Francisco last June, one of his uncle’s friends had gotten up to go to a convenience store.
“We both pitched in some dollars and asked him to go buy some Quick Picks for that night. Well, the ticket got lost. We didn’t bother to check whether it won or not. In fact, we forgot about it,” Shauf said.
Months passed. Meanwhile, Manarang, who was selling his car, found the ticket among a handful of others.
He drove to a Dana Point liquor store and had the clerk check the ticket numbers. That’s when they learned their ticket had won a jackpot. They had picked five out of six numbers, Eby said. “The clerk punched the number into the lottery’s on-line validation system on Dec. 18, and told the uncle, ‘You won $139,595,’ ” Eby said.
“The lottery knew that someone had won on the 178th day, because the store clerk notified them. But Shauf told me he forgot there were 31 days in the month of August and he didn’t add up the 180 days right,” Eby said.
Shauf said his uncle did have a hard time contacting him to notify him of the winning ticket.
“He finally got ahold of me on the night of the 20th. The following morning I went to my uncle’s and we filled out the form and then I drove to Van Nuys and personally brought the ticket in to the lottery office,” Shauf said.
When Shauf got the news, he wasn’t happy.
“I tried to keep calm. They said, ‘Mr. Shauf, it is a day late.’ They called a superior in and told her to send my application in as if it was a winner. But they mailed me the letter saying I didn’t win.”