California winner finally checks lottery ticket, and wins big!
Drawing Date: 3/1/2016
June 20, 2016 - When Maureen Wilson pulled out $30 to pay for gas at an Arco am/pm in Poway, Calif., she said she noticed a stack of about seven California Lottery tickets in her wallet that she still hadn’t checked. She figured there was no better time for the store clerk to scan them to see if any of them were winners. That decision would change her life!
“He said to me, ‘You see that sign up there? (There was a sign notifying customers that the store had recently sold an $802,153-winning Mega Millions ticket and they were still looking for the winner.) That’s you! We’ve been waiting for you for several months!’” It was 72 days to be exact!
That’s right. Wilson had no idea she’d successfully matched five of six numbers (1-29-33-34-55, missing only the Mega number 6) from the March 1, 2016 draw. Not until she stopped to get gas on May 12 was she aware that she was nearly a million dollars richer (Had she matched all six numbers, she would have won the $135 million jackpot!)! “I never expect to win. That’s why I let them sit in my purse [unchecked]. I’m really bad at it. If I win, it’s [usually only] like a dollar!” the 58-year-old Temecula resident admitted with a chuckle.
“The clerk was really calm…that’s why I didn’t believe him,” Wilson went on to explain, describing the moment she found out she’d won it big. “I go, ‘No it’s not [a win],’ and he goes, ‘Yes it is.’ He was really calm – but I had to sit on the floor!”
Wilson admits she was so stunned, it’s lucky she didn’t stick the gasoline nozzle into her exhaust pipe when she pumped her fuel. “Oh yes!” And she can really use this money. “You know – I’ve been employed a lot since 2011 (Wilson is a quality engineer who’s out of a job whenever her short-term contract work expires). I’ve had to spend most of my retirement to save my house. I drive a 17-year-old car because I don’t have the money to buy even something used.”
Wilson said she originally stopped at the Arco am/pm station (12805 Poway Road, Poway) on March 1 to buy her $1 Mega Millions ticket because she was driving from her home in Riverside County to visit a friend in Poway. That’s where she was going again on May 12 when she pulled in to get gas. “I stop there because if you pay cash [at this station], gas is a little bit cheaper.”
So was there a chance Wilson might not have ever checked what turned out to be her winning ticket? “Oh absolutely. I’ve found some at home that I’ve taken in and they were so old, they’d expired. There’s no telling how much I might have won [on the ones] I’ve never checked. I just don’t expect to win!” Wilson confessed. “I can’t believe this is happening!”
What’s really crazy is Wilson didn’t even decide to purchase what turned out to be her winning Mega Millions ticket! “I said [to the clerk] here’s a dollar, put it on whatever you want. And he just so happened to choose Mega Millions,” Wilson shared. “I don’t have any luck, so I figure maybe the person choosing [the game] may have the luck. It worked out this time for sure!”
This is the most Wilson has won playing the California Lottery. She said the most she’d previously won was $50 “a long time ago.” As for what she’s doing with her $802,153 (before federal taxes) – most of it is going into the bank. “But something I have always wanted to do is go to Wimbledon. I have a cousin that lives nearby. So yes! I’m going to Wimbledon!”
As for that 17-year-old car she drives back and forth to visit her friend in Poway: “You know,” Wilson said laughing, “I kind of like my Buick Regal with the super-charged engine.” Well, at least she doesn’t have to worry about searching for the cheapest gas station to take it to anymore. All Wilson says she needs now is something a Lottery ticket win unfortunately cannot provide: a full-time job!