Lost Spanish lotto ticket handed in to clear conscience

Lottery tickets (file images)
Image caption The search for the ticket's real winner could take up to two years

A man who found a multi million-euro winning lottery ticket in La Coruna, Spain said he would not have been able to sleep if he had claimed the prize.

Manuel Reija Gonzalez's discovery of the 4.7m-euro (£4m; $6.3m) ticket has prompted a search for the real winner.

"I never for a moment thought about keeping it because I wanted to be able to sleep well at night with a clear conscience," he told the BBC.

If the ticket's owner cannot be found, the money will go to Mr Reija Gonzalez.

Authorities are not revealing exactly when or where in the north-western Spanish city the ticket for the 30 June 2012 draw was bought, so they can test the claims of people coming forward.

Reija Gonzalez, whose brother, father and grandfather worked for the Spanish lottery, according to local media, said he empathised with the person who lost it.

"Because here was somebody who had a problem forgetting his ticket and I put myself in his shoes, and it's the sort of thing I could have done. I thought the best thing to do was just to return the ticket," he told the BBC World Service programme Newsday.

He said he would be happy if the real winner was identified during the search, which could last up to two years.

"We're still in a phase where it's all just been made public in La Coruna so really what will be will be and I can't really tell you how I feel," he added.

"Here we have a phrase: it's God's will."

The ticket has now been advertised on the lost-and-found section of the city website - usually dominated by notices about mobile phones, keys and wallets.

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