Six lucky numbers made a New Jersey man a multimillionaire overnight but hitting the $273 million jackpot almost didn’t happen.
Speaking at a news conference the winner told lottery officials and the press, “I figured when I woke up Friday morning, well it’s just another thing I lost.”
Recently divorced and unemployed for a year, Mike Weirsky, 54, took a shot when he bought a few Mega Millions lottery tickets but his cell phone got in the way and he forgot to actually take his lottery tickets with him.
“I put the tickets down, put my money away and did something on my phone and just walked away.”
Weirsky realised his mistake the next day and went back to the store to pick them up but didn’t check them until days after the drawing.
The lucky Mega Millions winner said a friend of his mother’s called to say she thought a mutual friend of theirs had hit the jackpot. That man bought his ticket at the same store he did and had been standing right in front of him when he did it.
So Weirsky called to ask if he had won.
When the man said he had not, he decided to check his own tickets using the lottery app on his phone. Then he turned to his mother in shock.
“I put the ticket down and said to my mother, ‘That just said I was the jackpot winner and she said what’s that mean and I said I won 273 million Dollars. And she was like, get the hell out of here!”
“I just put the ticket back down, watched TV for about another half-hour. And I just got up and ran upstairs, got dressed and I said, ‘I’ve got to go find out if it’s real,’” he said.
Now thanks to taking the lump sum once-off cash option, Weirsky will take home $162.5 million.
So how was the winning ticket still there after he left it behind?
As luck would have it a store employee held onto it for him.
Weirsky confirmed at the press conference that he will definitely be giving the store employee “something” but he will keep that private.
"I wouldn't have 273 million dollars if it wasn't for them."
Turns out Weirsky’s Good Samaritan is store clerk, Phil Campolo who noticed the tickets were left behind and made sure that they were kept safe.
Campolo said, "My parents raised me to be a good person, honest, sincere. I try to take that with me everywhere I go."
“I was very thankful there was an honest person out there because I thought it was gone,” said Weirsky.
After being unemployed for the last 15 years he has been living with his former wife, Eileen Murray, 53. She works as a cost analyst for a utility company. The two divorced in October.
She told the press, "He’s not appealing to me all of a sudden because he has this money.”
"I’m not going after anything. I have morals. I know what I’ve worked for and it's everything that I have."
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