An Alabama man survived a court challenge to his $1 million lottery prize. (Credit: Georgia Lottery)

Man wins $1M in Georgia Lottery — and court case

Two years after buying a winning Georgia Lottery ticket, a northeast Alabama man is close to collecting his $1 million jackpot.

A Fulton County Superior Court jury last month awarded Larry Payne of Attalla the jackpot for the Powerball ticket he bought in North Georgia in February 2015, lottery spokeswoman Kimberly Starks confirmed.

The court case was necessary because a Gadsden, Ala., woman who works with Payne’s nephew also claimed ownership of the ticket after she learned of the situation, Payne’s attorney told an Alabama newspaper.

Payne bought the ticket when he and his cousin were returning from a trip to Tennessee, and they stopped at a store in Dade County to buy soft drinks, according to the newspaper. He used the “quick pick” option.

However, Payne forgot about the ticket until July 2016, when nephew Bryan Payne borrowed his truck, which had the ticket under a visor, to go to Rockmart, according to the report.

A Rockmart store owner told Bryan Payne the ticket was worth $600, and that he would have to go to lottery officials in Atlanta to claim the winnings. However, lottery officials told him that the ticket was a $1 million winner, the newspaper reported. Bryan Payne never claimed ownership of the ticket.

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After that, the woman called lottery officials to say that it was her ticket and that Bryan Payne had stolen it from her desk, according to the report.

The Etowah County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Office cleared Bryan Payne of theft charges, then Georgia Lottery officials filed a lawsuit to have the court determine the winner, which would keep the lottery from paying the wrong person.

The six-day trial ended July 22, Larry Payne’s attorney told the newspaper.

According to Starks, the jackpot will be paid when the verdict is no longer subject to appeal, which should be by the end of August.

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