LYNDHURST, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey lottery winner almost became a loser after making a million dollar mistake.
But, as CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, thanks to an honest convenience store owner, a Lyndhurst man is now $1.4 million richer.
With a store name like Leprechaun News, owner Yogi Patel said you can’t help but be lucky. Just ask one of his long time lotto customers who hit the jackpot, but didn’t even know it.
Patel said the customer came into his Rutherford convenience store and bought several hundred dollars worth of scratch off tickets.
“Only some people play the $20 ticket, maybe $1 or $2,” Patel said.
Distracted, the customer didn’t realize that one of the $20 double diamond tickets was a winner and mistakenly tossed it in the trash — a $2 million mistake Patel noticed when going through his daily records.
After realizing that he sold the winning ticket, Patel dug through the trash and found it.
“One by one I’m looking. After six tickets I find it,” he said.
Patel did a little detective work. He tracked down the customer and his phone number to let him know he won a lump sum of nearly $1.4 million.
Patel will be rewarded with a $30,000 bonus commission, but said he was just doing the right thing.
“This is not my money. God looking to me always,” he said.
His customers were not surprised by his honesty.
“He’s a good guy, good guy. That wasn’t shocking,” one customer said.
“You never find an honest man like him around. It’s tough especially when you got a million dollar ticket. Other people might put it in their pocket and claim it for themselves,” another said.
The lucky ticket holder from Lyndhurst said he wanted to remain anonymous, and thanked Patel for making him a winner.