The old saying that possession is nine tenths of the law may not hold up in court.
A US woman who found a winning lotto ticket worth $1 million USD has been forced to hand it back to the woman who threw it away.
Sharon Jones found the winning ticket in a bin full of discarded tickets and immediately claimed her winnings, which came to $680,000 after taxes.
Ms Jones found the ticket when going through her weekly routine of entering discarded tickets in a 'Points for Prizes' program online.
The program would not allow Ms Jones to enter one particular ticket because it was actually worth $1 million.
Ms Jones had already begun to spend her new found wealth by giving cash to her children and buying a new truck, when the woman who purchased the ticket, Sharon Duncan, commenced legal action.
Ms Duncan claims she only threw the ticket out because a store scanner told her it wasn't a winner.
Ms Jones's attorney fired back, saying the ticket became abandoned property as soon as it was discarded.
"It became trash when someone threw it away," attorney James Simpson told the court.
The store's owner tried to get in on the action too, claiming the ticket belonged to her because it came from her store's bin.
Lisa Petriches claimed there was a 'do not take' sign on the bin, and surveillance footage clearly showed the winning ticket being pulled from the bin.
But a judge has sided with Ms Duncan, forcing Ms Jones to hand back her winnings, and leaving Ms Petriches with nothing.
In his ruling, County judge Thomas Hughes found that simply because Ms Jones possessed the ticket, Ms Duncan hadn't abandoned her right to claim the $1 million prize.
"We are very happy about our victory," Duncan's attorney told ABC News. "It will take us more than a year to collect the money, but we are happy."
Ms Jones says she plans to appeal the ruling.