Tomorrow would have been too late.

But, luckily, news of an expiring $400,000 Powerball got to a Cumberland County, Pa., couple in time - 50 weeks after she bought her ticket at Karns Foods, on Carlisle Pike in Mechanicsburg.

"My husband . . . told me to check my shoebox of old tickets," said Brenda Stover of New Cumberland. "I matched five-of-five numbers on one ticket, but I didn't realize it was the one they were looking for."

Indeed, it was.

Not only did it have the five numbers, it also had the PowerPlay option, which doubled the second-place prize of $200,000.

Stover, though, wasn't sure until she took the ticket to a local lottery retailer on May 22.

What happened next might make some scratch their heads.

(Or "keep on scratching" as lottery spokesgroundhog Gus would say.)

The state lottery headquarters, where the claim had to be presented, is only about 10 miles east of where the Stovers live.

But the retailer chose to put the ticket in the mail.

The claim arrived yesterday and was validated in the afternoon.

Today, one year after the drawing date, the ticket would have expired.

But even if the mail had been slower, the claim would likely have been approved, said lottery spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell.

The retailer's corroboration and the postmark would have established that Stover came forward in time, she said.

Too bad Stover's delay didn't come under Powerball's latest rules.

Since January, having any PowerPlay multiplier automatically boosts the prize to $1 million for anyone, like Stover, with all five white-ball numbers.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.