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Winning $4.86 million lottery ticket recovered from store garbage

Washington LotteryWashington Lottery: Winning $4.86 million lottery ticket recovered from store garbage

Being a good Samaritan may not pay off in money, but doing a good deed is reward enough for one store clerk who rescued a nearly $5 million lottery ticket from the trash and returned it to its rightful owner.

"It didn't even cross my mind to keep it. I just knew it was hers," said Sherry Brust, a customer service cashier at a Fred Meyer store in Port Orchard. "I'm just that type of a person. ... I like to help people."

Brust and another co-worker at the store sifted through a trash can last week and recovered Leonetta Garcia's winning Quinto ticket worth $4.86 million. Garcia had bought the ticket March 6 at the Fred Meyer store in Bremerton.

On Wednesday, Garcia, a 54-year-old Port Orchard resident, claimed a $3.645 million payout after taxes, money she would not have without Brust's quick thinking.

Brust said Garcia came in March 8 -- a day after the drawing -- and asked her to check three tickets.

"I got the message, 'Do Not Pay,' " Brust said, a standard message that pops up on the screen when the payout goes above $500.

Then the zeroes came up on the confirmation screen. At first, Brust thought Garcia had won $48,600.

"It was amazing when I saw the amount. I was trying to be really calm. I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, that's a lot of money.' "

Garcia left the store shell-shocked. A still-excited Brust said she then started wondering if Garcia had won the jackpot. A call to lottery officials confirmed her musings. That's when Brust realized Garcia had left with only the confirmation slip, not the ticket.

Both the winning ticket and a confirmation slip are needed to claim lottery awards.

Since winners who redeem their lower-paying tickets regularly throw them away in the trash bin next to the counter, Brust knew where to look first. Recruiting another co-worker to help while they juggled their regular duties, it didn't take them long to find the missing ticket.

"After we found it, we didn't want anything happening to that beautiful ticket -- it was quite a bit of money -- so my manager put it in the safe," Brust said.

Garcia called back and asked Brust how much she had won. Brust told her, "You won the whole thing."

Garcia returned to claim the ticket.

"She was like, 'I feel like a changed person,' " Brust said. "Her husband, he was so cute, he just kept telling her, 'Get that ticket!' But we told them, we got the ticket, it's OK."

Garcia changed her home phone number to a non-listed number, and she was not at her job in the dietary services department at the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil yesterday.

"We haven't seen her and we probably won't see her," said Lauralyn Grady, a dietician office assistant. "But we all really feel like she deserved it. We're happy for her."

The winner reveals story

"I can't believe this is happening," Garcia said. "It's unreal."

She decided to buy lottery tickets March 6 when she opened a fortune cookie that had "lucky" lottery numbers on the back of the fortune.

At a Fred Meyer store she got state Lotto and multistate Mega Millions tickets with the numbers, plus a Quinto ticket with a hand chosen by computer. Each Quinto ticket bears five cards from a standard deck, and a match of all five wins the top payout.

On March 8, a day after the drawing, she asked Sherry Brust, a Fred Meyer clerk, to check the tickets and learned she had a big winner.

"I checked the (Quinto) ticket and it said: 'Do not pay,'" Brust said. "I told her, 'Whoa, that's a lot of money.'"

Garcia grabbed Brust's hand in disbelief, Brust handed Garcia her redemption ticket and the winning Quinto ticket got mixed in with Garcia's losers.

"It was so fast," Brust said. "I was checking three tickets, I told her she was a winner and then she grabbed my hand and took off. It was a matter of seconds. I was in shock. She was in shock."

Realizing the big winner was in the trash, the clerk got some other Fred Meyer employees to help her recover it. No sooner had they found it then Garcia called and Brust told her it had been found and placed in the store's safe.

"I told her, 'I love you!'" Garcia said.

From there the ticket went into a safe deposit box while Garcia consulted a lawyer and financial adviser.

"I'm so used to being poor that I don't know what to do with this much money," she said. "I just feel like we're blessed, and we have money to do something with to enjoy life and take care of my family."

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12 comments. Last comment 12 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 1
konane's avatar - wallace
Atlanta, GA
United States
Member #1265
March 13, 2003
3333 Posts
Offline
Posted: March 18, 2005, 10:36 am - IP Logged

 Yet another fortune cookie win.....      Good for her!!

Double kudos for the clerk!!

 

Good luck to everyone!

    Avatar

    United States
    Member #972
    December 30, 2002
    465 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: March 18, 2005, 10:46 am - IP Logged

    Nice to have a lost ticket story that doesn't end with knuckleheads and greedy idiots suing each other. 

    >"I'm so used to being poor that I don't know what to do with this much money," she said.

    She can give some of it to the store workers who got the ticket back for her.

      Avatar

      United States
      Member #1826
      July 11, 2003
      2645 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: March 18, 2005, 3:18 pm - IP Logged

      No other pick-5 game can boast such a large jackpot.

      (insert signature here)


        United States
        Member #379
        June 5, 2002
        11296 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: March 18, 2005, 3:34 pm - IP Logged

        Jimmy:

        No other lotto game consists of all playing cards.

          DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
          Yinzer Country, PA
          United States
          Member #4067
          March 18, 2004
          2741 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: March 18, 2005, 11:14 pm - IP Logged

          if i were the winner, i'd tip the clerk generously.

          I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.

            dvdiva's avatar - 8ball

            United States
            Member #2338
            September 17, 2003
            2063 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: March 19, 2005, 1:36 am - IP Logged

            No kidding. One wonders if she was kind enough to give the guy some cash. It would have been all to easy to cash a blank ticket in the trash.

              MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
              Beautiful Florida
              United States
              Member #5709
              July 18, 2004
              20119 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: March 19, 2005, 1:48 pm - IP Logged

               great ending to a good story..

               thats what it's all about folks, helping others...!

                                                           

                                                             "  When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty "

                ayenowitall's avatar - rod serling4.jpg

                United States
                Member #4416
                April 22, 2004
                1075 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: March 19, 2005, 4:44 pm - IP Logged

                Thank goodness for Quick Picks! You just can't beat dumb luck. It's a good thing Mrs Garcia didn't outsmart herself by trying to convert those fortune cookie numbers into playing card symbols. That's probably what I would have tried to do.

                aye' 

                  Maverick's avatar - yinyang
                  USA
                  United States
                  Member #8242
                  October 29, 2004
                  1133 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: March 19, 2005, 9:24 pm - IP Logged

                  Wow I saw this news 2 days ago at seattlepi. I would give the persons who found the tickets a nice tip


                    United States
                    Member #379
                    June 5, 2002
                    11296 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: March 20, 2005, 2:15 pm - IP Logged

                    I bet few pick their own cards for Quinto.

                      Avatar

                      United States
                      Member #1826
                      July 11, 2003
                      2645 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: March 20, 2005, 3:16 pm - IP Logged
                      Quote: Originally posted by CASH Only on March 20, 2005

                      I bet few pick their own cards for Quinto.


                      I would. I'd pick all five plays.

                      (insert signature here)


                        United States
                        Member #379
                        June 5, 2002
                        11296 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: March 20, 2005, 3:19 pm - IP Logged

                        Jimmy:

                        Do you remember Hearts & Diamonds, which was QP only?