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Lottery winner finds lost $1 million ticket

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A Sparta man recently won more than $1 million in the Tennessee Lottery, but almost missed claiming the prize.

For about an hour last week, an unsigned Tennessee Cash ticket worth $1,178,746 lay in the parking lot of the O’Reilly Auto Parts store in Sparta.

Sparta native Nick Slatten finished his day laying tile in Smithville on March 10 and stopped at Village Market to buy a drink and a Tennessee Cash ticket for that night’s drawing before heading home.

On Thursday morning, Slatten checked the results and found he had all the numbers, making his ticket worth more than $1.1 million.

“I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it,” Slatten said in a news release. “I can’t express it. It was something else.”

Slatten rushed to his fiancée Michelle’s work in Sparta to tell her about the winning lottery ticket. After sharing the news, he continued to run errands, which included taking his brother to buy a car part at O’Reilly and then a stop for lunch.

About an hour later, Slatten realized he didn’t have the ticket anymore.

“I couldn’t find it anywhere,” he said.

It should be noted that lottery tickets are bearer instruments, just like cash. If a player loses his ticket, anyone can claim it. Tennessee Lottery encourages players to sign their ticket immediately after purchase to identify it as theirs and to help prevent someone else from cashing it in the event that it is lost or stolen.

Slatten immediately began retracing his steps and pulled into the O’Reilly’s parking lot where he saw the ticket lying on the ground, right next to the driver’s side door of another vehicle.

“It’s a million-dollar ticket, and someone stepped right over it,” Slatten said.

Slatten’s ticket is one of five tickets worth $1 million or more sold in Tennessee this month.

Slatten and his fiancée will continue working and have plans to buy a house of their own and better vehicles, as well as investing.

Their plan is to live life with “not a whole lot of worries,” he said.