Imagine having lottery tickets worth $10,000, and then realizing you had thrown them away.

That’s precisely what happened to Cedric Jackson of Rome over the weekend. But the story doesn’t end there.

Jackson was a regular customer at Rick’s Food Mart, 2000 N. Broad St., and went to the store early Saturday morning to buy new Cash 4 tickets.

His girlfriend, Kizie Donaldson, said Jackson told Sarabjeet “Ricky” Singh to throw the old ones away. It wasn’t until later in the day that Jackson discovered he had played the winning numbers but had thrown away the tickets.

He went back to the store with Donaldson, explained what had happened and clerk Jaswant “Sunny” Singh went through the trash at the counter but couldn’t find anything.

“I had to go inside the dumpster cause I thought that I had thrown them away for real,” Jackson said.

It didn’t look good until a little later Ricky Singh remembered where he’d put the trash.

“That morning there wasn’t that much trash in here and I dumped it into that inside little trash can,” said Singh, pointing to a tall trash can in an inner office.

He found the tickets then made a few calls and was able to track down Jackson with the good news.

“It was a blessing from God,” said Jackson after he got the call.

Jackson made the trip to the Dalton office of the Georgia Lottery to cash in his winnings Monday morning and was back at Rick’s Food Mart before noon to try a few scratch-offs.

Donaldson made sure that Singh got a nice tip for his honesty, which Ricky Singh immediately handed off to his employee Sunny Singh.

Ricky Singh said there was never any question after he found the two $5,000 tickets that he would make the effort to track down Jackson.

“If I had kept them it would have been like stealing,” Singh said.

Jackson said he planned to help out members of his family with his winnings. Donaldson said the couple would also pay off some bills.