RELEASE DATE: 8/3/2018
SACRAMENTO – “It was spur of the moment. ‘Hey, did you hear about the jackpot? We should play.’” And just like that, those words set into motion a move that would result in the largest prize ever won on a single California Lottery ticket. Roland Reyes claimed the incredible $543 million prize on behalf of his group, but he didn’t show up alone. In total, each of 11 office pool members showed up to the Lottery’s East Bay District Office in Hayward the day after the July 24 draw. Reyes tells us the group played on a whim after learning how large the jackpot had grown, so imagine their surprise when they wound up winning the entire prize.
Reyes and the group declined to say where they work, other than it’s in the financial industry. The sheer randomness of their win has left them dumbfounded. “If I could win, anybody could win. We’re just normal people!” Reyes said with a laugh.
The players, ranging in age from 21 to 60, told us they don’t have a regular lottery pool. They simply took a chance on the game by pitching in $2 apiece. Out of all the retailers who sell California Lottery tickets, Reyes told us he knew the type of place he wanted to purchase the tickets. “A small business owner. We’ll probably have a better chance with a mom & pop shop,” Reyes said of his thought process before pulling up to Ernie’s Liquors, which is located at 2808 South White Road in San Jose (Santa Clara County). The winning ticket, a Quick Pick®, successfully matched the numbers 19-2-4-1-29 and the Mega number 20.
News of their win spread quickly the night of the draw as members called each other for a quick meeting. This is one instance where the winners didn’t have to worry about telling their supervisor because he was involved in this lottery pool, too. So, it should come as no surprise that California’s newest multi-millionaires still plan on working. “We want to keep our jobs,” Reyes said. “We love that company. We love what we’ve built there. We have a good time and want to stay together.”
The winners have the option of taking the entire annuitized amount of $543 million spread out over 30 years, or taking the final lump-sum cash option of $320.5 million. Both options are before federal taxes. There were mentions of paying off mortgages, kids’ college tuition, helping family members, going back to school and, of course, travel. “It helps real people and families,” Reyes said, realizing how lucky he and his co-workers are. The group nodded in agreement, as one co-worker stressed that she’d invest wisely to avoid becoming a “one-time millionaire.”
**The winners decline to speak with the media or to include a photo with this release. No further information about them will be released.**
This retailer wins too! Kewal Sachdev, co-owner of Ernie’s Liquor, will receive the maximum retailer bonus from the Lottery of $1 million just for selling the lucky jackpot ticket. (The retailer bonus is not subtracted from the winner’s jackpot prize.)
Here are some additional quick facts about this win:
- Total final revised jackpot amount: $543 million (Largest prize won in California Lottery history).
- California sold $123.8 million worth of Mega Millions tickets during this jackpot run which began on May 8, 2018. It took 23 draws (22 rolls) for someone to finally hit the huge $543 million jackpot.
- The estimated contribution to California public education from this Mega Millions run is nearly $50 million.
- Based on preliminary figures for FY 2017-18, per-pupil Lottery funding (assuming Lottery monies are distributed evenly to each student) comes out to an estimated $204 per student.
Mega Millions is played in 44 states (plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Draw times are Tuesdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m. PDT. Tickets are $2 and can be purchased from any of the 23,000 California Lottery retailers or one of the more than 4,000 Lottery Lucky Retailers. Please visit the California Lottery’s Mega Millions site for more information on how to play.
The California Lottery is a $6 billion enterprise based in Sacramento. It is one of the few state agencies that is a revenue generator, not accepting taxpayer dollars from the State’s General Fund. Its mission is to provide supplemental funding to California schools while simultaneously supporting local communities. In FY 2017-18, the Lottery created 93 new millionaires. Ninety-five cents of every dollar spent by our players goes back to local communities in the form of contributions to public schools and colleges, prizes and retail compensation. The California Lottery urges its customers to play responsibly and within their budgets. If you feel you have a gambling problem, or know someone who does, you can get help at 1-800-GAMBLER.
Media contact: California Lottery Corporate Communications, [email protected]