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ShutterStock6The drawing for Powerball’s third-largest historical prize has come and gone. What a lot of people don’t know is that half of the 343.9 million was almost lost forever. A central Iowa woman came forward to claim her $343.9 million half of the Powerball jackpot. She then shared the harrowing details of a misplaced ticket.

The jackpot prize will be split with another ticket purchased in New York City. While the New York ticket has yet to be claimed, the same was almost true for Lerynn West of Clive, Iowa.

West, 51, bought the ticket at Casey’s, in Redfield, a Dallas County community of about 830. She had just bought a new house there and was planning her move into the home. West bought a Quick-pick Powerball ticket when she and her sister stopped for pizza and coffee. She thought she had put the ticket into her purse but, unbeknownst to her, it had fallen out and onto the floor of her sister’s pickup.

After the drawing, West received a text from her friend asking about the Jackpot. After realizing she had lost her ticket, she called her sister who later found it in her truck. After receiving a text message including a picture of the ticket, West checked the numbers and realized she had just hit a major windfall.

“I told my sister to get in her truck and get that ticket and get up here right now! And, drive slow,” West said with a laugh as she recalled that day.

The gravity of the moment was not lost on West as she claimed the prize.

“I realize this is a life-changing moment,” Lerynne West of Redfield said as she claimed her prize at lottery headquarters in Clive. “I’m excited to share my winnings with family and friends, plan to purchase a new car, and look forward to a long vacation – or several. I also plan to give to the causes and organizations important to my family through our newly established Callum Foundation.”

West, now retired, intends to use the winnings to set up and promote the Callum Foundation (www.callumfoundation.org). The charitable organization is named after her grandson, Callum, who was born prematurely and only lived for a day. Its focus will be on alleviating poverty and hunger, education, animal welfare, and veteran’s affairs.

“We have a board set up that will go over the requests and decide what is in the best interests of the Callum Foundation,” she said. “The whole thing of knowing when to pull together a team and work on these plans came from years of playing and daydreaming about winning the lottery. Then once it finally happens, it’s a whole new ballgame.”

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