A US woman found an email in her spam saying she’d won R46 million. She really had.

Business Insider US
Laura Spears almost missed being notified of her $3 million lottery win.
Peter Dazeley via Getty Images
  • An American woman played the Michigan state lottery on New Year's Eve but forgot to follow up.
  • It turned out she won $3 million – the equivalent of R46 million – in the lottery, but didn't realise until checking her spam folder.
  • Laura Spears said she inadvertently discovered her win while looking for something else.
  • For more stories, go to

A US woman is celebrating a $3 million lottery win – the equivalent of R46 million – which she only discovered after an email in her spam folder alerted her to the life-changing win.

55-year-old Laura Spears matched five balls in the Michigan Lottery's Mega Millions prize on New Years' Eve, the contest's organiser announced on Friday.

But she hadn't thought to check her numbers, and might not have found out if she hadn't happened to check her spam folder a few days later while looking for an unrelated message.

It is a striking change from the messages spam filters exist to stop, which promise easy money but are in fact meant to defraud their recipients.

"I was looking for a missing email from someone, so I checked the spam folder in my email account," Spears told the Michigan Lottery. 

"That's when I saw an email from the lottery saying I had won a prize," she added.

"I couldn't believe what I was reading, so I logged in to my lottery account to confirm the message in the email. It's all still so shocking to me that I really won $3 million!"

Her initial win was $1 million, but as she spent an extra $1 on the lottery's "megaplier" offer, her total winnings tripled. 

Spears said she added the Michigan Lottery to her safe senders list in case she ever gets that lucky again. 

She plans to share the win with family and retire earlier than planned, the lottery organisers said.

The Michigan Lottery jackpot stood at $376 million as of January 21, and was last won in October 2021. 

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.