New Jersey Handyman Claims $273 Million Mega Millions Jackpot
An unemployed handyman from New Jersey has come forward to claim a Mega Millions jackpot worth $273 million. At one point, it looked as though 53-year-old Mike Weirsky was going to miss out on his big prize after accidentally leaving his winning ticket in the store he bought it from.
“I Put the Tickets Down… and Just Walked Away”
The lucky Mega Millions ticket holder from the Alpha region in The Garden State matched all five main numbers – 29, 33, 39, 60 and 66 – plus the Mega Ball of 21 to take home the nine-figure windfall on Friday 1st March. There were over 680,000 winners in the drawing, but it almost wasn’t meant to be for the now multi-millionaire.
The New Jerseyan bought two tickets for $4 from a Quick Chek store in the Phillipsburg area of the state, one of which was the jackpot-winning entry. However, after being distracted on his telephone, he said: “Typical cell phone. I was paying more attention to the cell phone. I put the tickets down, put my money away, did something on the phone and just walked away.” When Weirsky returned home, he realised he didn’t have his tickets, he returned to the store the following day to see if they were still there.
To his relief, a member of the public who found them had handed them in to the cashier, and Weirsky was able to collect them before the drawing. The tickets were unsigned so the member of the public who picked them up could have claimed the jackpot for themselves had they signed the tickets and kept them.
The lucky player, who divorced last year after 15 years of marriage, checked his tickets following the drawing, and described the moment he thought he was a big winner: "I just put the ticket back down, watched TV for another half hour and just got up and ran upstairs and got dressed and thought I gotta go find out if it's real. So I handed the ticket in (at the store) and the guys said, 'Oh my God, you're the big winner."
Weirsky Wants to Reward Honest Citizen
Weirsky, who has been playing the lottery for years with $20 Quick Picks, overcame odds of over 1 in 302 million to land the jackpot. He has pledged to reward the honesty of the kind person who gave the tickets back, stating: “I’m looking for the guy that handed them in, I want to thank him. I’m going to give him something, but I’m going to keep that private.”
He came forward to claim his prize just five days after the drawing from the New Jersey Lottery headquarters, and is expected to opt for a cash lump sum payment of $162.5 million rather than annuity payments. James Carey, New Jersey Lottery executive director, said: “When Mike came in yesterday (to claim his prize), brought like 10 family members with him: sisters, mother, friends, nephews. Great thing. Great family.”
Lottery winners cannot remain anonymous in New Jersey, so Weirsky held a press conference to go public with his big win on Thursday 7th March. He revealed: “I couldn’t believe I was the winner of more than $2 after playing after all these years. I was a bum in high school, I was a bum after. Maybe I'll be a beach bum now. I was down, now I’m way up! I don’t know how much higher I can get.”
With a $45 million jackpot up for grabs in tonight’s drawing, you could follow in the footsteps of Weirsky by picking your numbers online. Best of luck to all who enter!