Calif. Mega Millions winner kept ticket in drawer for weeks
LOS ANGELES — It took the winner of a record California Mega Millions jackpot several weeks to come forward because he didn't realize he had the ticket, officials said.
He was identified Friday as Steve Tran, but lottery officials said he asked that no other information about his background be revealed.
The ticket is worth $324 million, or half the $648-million jackpot.
If Tran chooses the cash option, his ticket is estimated to be worth $173.8 million.
Lottery officials said Tran followed the media coverage about the jackpot.
The Northern California resident had put the winning ticket, purchased in San Jose on Dec. 17 during a delivery route that included multiple cities, in a drawer.
There it remained until he recently returned from vacation, lottery officials said Friday.
Then he "woke up in the middle of the night" and remembered: "I think I went to San Jose," according to the account provided by California Lottery officials.
At 3 a.m. Monday, he checked his ticket and discovered he was a winner. He gave his wife a smile and a hug and then left a message for his boss: "I'm really sorry, boss. I hit the jackpot. I don't think I'm going to come in today, tomorrow or ever."
The owner of the San Jose store where the ticket was sold will also take home his own prize of $1 million, according to lottery officials.
Thuy Nguyen told lottery officials that he purchased the store — Jenny's Gift Shop — just four months ago.
The winning numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20, 39 and a Mega number of 7.
The other winner, a Georgia resident who already came forward to claim her prize, purchased her ticket in Atlanta.
Two other tickets sold in California matched five numbers and were missing only the Mega numbers.
The tickets, both purchased in San Diego County, remain unclaimed and are worth $2.6 million to their owners.