Sometimes it pays to break a New Year's resolution.
After years of buying lottery tickets in the store he managed, Greg Lambert resolved this year it just wasn't worth it anymore. Last week, though, he caved and bought a $10 million Texas Hold 'Em ticket.
"Something just told me to buy a ticket, so I did," he said.
The $10 ticket was a $1 million winner.
"I bought it, scratched it, looked again, and looked again, and looked again ..." said the 38-year-old Wayland resident.
The manager of the check-cashing store Check X Change in Worcester, Lambert estimates he has sold millions of dollars worth of lottery tickets in the 16 years he has worked at his father's store. Surrounded by tickets every day, he said he bought one whenever he had spare cash in his pocket. He spent about $40 a week on tickets, but never won more than $2,500 on any one.
"(My brother-in-law) and I came to the conclusion that we never sold a big ticket, so what was the use in our buying them?" he said.
But at 6:30 Monday evening, he made an exception for himself. At first, he bought a Powerball ticket in Rhode Island and won $4.
Encouraged by the modest win, he thought, "What the hell, I'll just try it," and bought the lucky Texas Hold 'Em ticket that for a week had been sitting in the same store he worked at every day.
After scratching the ticket and staring at the matching numbers for over a minute, he scanned it at the register to be sure it was true: The first big ticket the store had sold was the one he sold himself.
Lambert called his wife, Sharon, right away.
"I told her to sit down first, and then I told her," he said. "She told me five or six times, 'You're lying. You're tricking me. Is this a joke?'"
The $1 million prize money will be paid out over 20 years. After taxes, each $50,000 payment is reduced to $35,000. Though "not life-changing," the money will come in handy for Lambert, who has a second job teaching people how to become EMTs.
He doesn't plan to stop working, and he'll use the money to pay bills, continue work on an addition to his home and pay for his three children's college tuition.
The Lambert family moved to Wayland from Northborough two years ago. Sharon, whose father owns Wayland Power Equipment, grew up in Wayland.
As an added bonus, the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission pays a $10,000 commission to the store that sells a winning ticket - good news for Lambert's dad, Raymond.
"Obviously, I'm pleased," said Raymond Lambert, though he is quick to point out that his son was at no advantage by working in the store. "There's no way you can predetermine a winning ticket."
After his one fortunate slip, Greg Lambert says he is back to his old resolution. This time, he means it.
"Now I'm actually one of the few people in the world who's up on the lottery," he said. "I'm done."