A winning $1 million lottery ticket picked out of a gas station trash can has become the subject of a three-way legal battle in Arkansas.
Sharon Jones was at a Super One Stop in July 2011 in Bebee, Ark., when she went to a trash bin to pick up a handful of discarded lottery tickets, as she had done many times before, according to her attorneys.
"It was, in fact, not a losing lottery ticket and not only that, but it"s worth a million dollars," Jones" attorney Winston Collier told ABCNews.com. "Thus a controversy was born."
Jones turned in the ticket and received a check for $680,000. After the check was issued, the lottery commission began the process of confirming all winning tickets and in the course of the investigation, surveillance footage showed Jones grabbing a handful of discarded tickets from the trash bin.
After seeing the footage, the store manager, Lisa Petriches, claimed that customers were not allowed to take tickets from the bin and that she had a deal with the manager that those tickets belonged to her.
A month after Jones collected her check, Petriches filed a lawsuit against her, claiming that the winning ticket was hers. Petriches also claimed that there was a "Do Not Take" sign on the bin.
"Our theory is that it was abandoned property," Collier said. "Once someone has abandoned it, it becomes the property of the first possessor."
One of Petriches" attorneys, Steven Underwood, refused to comment for the story.
A third party entered the equation this week when Sharon Duncan claimed that she was the one who originally purchased the ticket and that the jackpot is rightfully hers. The attorneys are meeing with the lottery commission on Monday to determine if there is any way to confirm the ticket"s ownership.
The $680,000 winnings are frozen as the case makes its way to court, but Collier said that his distressed client already spent some money in the month she had the winnings that she would not have otherwise spent, including buying a used car.