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This was one deadline you would not want to miss.

Just hours before his winning lottery ticket was set to expire, Dennis Cote of Ware claimed his “Lucky for Life” prize of $390,000 Thursday afternoon.

Cote purchased the winning ticket at a Circle K store in Whately for the drawing that was held on Sept. 26 of last year.

The identity of the ticket’s owner had been a mystery until Cote appeared at the Massachusetts State Lottery headquarters in Braintree.

Under lottery rules, participants have a year to claim their Lucky for Life prizes after the winning numbers have been announced in a drawing. If no one comes forward by the deadline, the prize money goes into the state’s general fund.

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As the expiration date for this drawing inched closer, officials were unsure whether the owner of the ticket would turn up, lottery spokesman Christian Teja said.

But Cote arrived at the Braintree headquarters around 2 p.m. Thursday, three hours before his prize was going to expire, and claimed his winnings.

Cote discovered he won several months ago, but decided to take time to do some financial planning and attend to a busy schedule, before claiming his prize, according to a statement released by the lottery.

The “Lucky for Life” prize could pay $25,000 a year for the rest of the winner’s life. But Cote opted to receive his winnings as a one-time cash payment of $390,000, according to the statement.

The lottery said Cote plans to use his winnings to assist with mortgage payments and to invest.

Trisha Thadani can be reached at trisha.thadani@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Trisha-Thadani.