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Store clerk's mistake helps N.Y. man win $10 million

New York LotteryNew York Lottery: Store clerk's mistake helps N.Y. man win $10 million

On Saturday, Jan. 18, 53-year-old Jerry Kajfasz went to the Depew One Stop on Broadway, his normal day-off haunt, where he bought some cigars and his favorite scratch-off New York Lottery tickets.

Nothing unusual there.

But the clerk mistakenly started to hand Kajfasz a $20 Win for Life Spectacular ticket. Kajfasz corrected the clerk, got the tickets he wanted and left the store.

That mistake set up a series of events that led Kajfasz, his wife, Anne, and their two children, Jackie and Frank, to win a guaranteed minimum of $10 million total, or $10,000 a week for life, from the New York Lottery.

The family of four, from Lancaster, was beaming Tuesday afternoon, as they held up an oversized $10 million ceremonial check.

On that lucky January day, Kajfasz walked out of the store and got in his truck.

"I kept winning on the scratch-off tickets," he recalled during a Tuesday afternoon news conference at the convenience store. "I won like seven in a row. I just got lucky, until I hit the big one."

With about $25 in hand and feeling lucky, Kajfasz figured what the heck. So he went back into the store, remembering that $20 Win for Life ticket, which he now calls "the one that almost got away."

He recalled telling the clerk, "Give me that ticket you almost gave me by accident."

Still in the store, Kajfasz scratched off the ticket, finding a 10 as one of the winning numbers on the top and a matching 10 among his numbers on the bottom. The payoff, though, came with the word "Life" printed just below his matching number.

"I just sat there and couldn't believe it," he said. "Shocked. I probably looked over the ticket half a dozen times."

The clerk validated the ticket, leaving Kajfasz a very rich man.

Call it the lucky — very lucky — $10 million mistake.

After having the ticket validated, Kajfasz called his wife with the news. Then he called his two children, in a more urgent tone than they usually hear from their normally laid-back father.

"He wouldn't tell me what happened," Frank Kajfasz said of his dad. "I said, 'Did you win the lottery?' "

"Well, I didn't want to tell you this way," his father replied. "Come over as soon as possible. I have some champagne."

The Kajfasz family had an option of how to collect its winnings. The parents are taking 86 percent, with each of the children getting 7 percent. So the parents will get 19 annual payments of around $450,000 before taxes, or almost $300,000 after taxes. But the ticket is in Frank's name, meaning that family members can keep collecting even after their father's lifetime.

Since striking it rich, Jerry Kajfasz already has retired from his printing job in Amherst.

Kajfasz plans to take care of his family, including keeping a promise to take his mother to visit family in her native Poland, lottery officials said.

Kajfasz becomes the 14th Erie County resident to win at least $10 million from the New York Lottery. The first 13 won their prizes between 1988 and 2005, according to lottery records.

But there hasn't been one in more than eight years.

"There's nothing systematic to suggest that kind of trend," said Carolyn Hapeman, a lottery spokeswoman. "It's just random luck."

The same could be said for Jerry Kajfasz.

"We've always had a joke that he had a horseshoe...," his daughter, Jackie, said, pausing as she realized her words were being recorded, "somewhere on his body."

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Thanks to tony869 for the tip.

Buffalo News

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33 comments. Last comment 4 years ago by TNPATL.
Page 1 of 3
wizeguy's avatar - animaniacs04

United States
Member #15143
May 10, 2005
444 Posts
Posted: February 27, 2014, 8:48 am - IP Logged

Congrats to the Kajfasz family! I always take mistake tickets Thumbs Up


    United States
    Member #141034
    April 2, 2013
    1481 Posts
    Posted: February 27, 2014, 9:00 am - IP Logged

    When it's your turn to win, nothing can stop it. Congrats lucky guy.

    Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

    Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

      luckyshoes's avatar - nw lady.jpg

      United States
      Member #79502
      September 2, 2009
      6579 Posts
      Posted: February 27, 2014, 9:10 am - IP Logged

      Major WTG !

      Mueller Ain't Going Anywhere
      It's what makes America great again : )

        s5thomps's avatar - Lottery-033.jpg
        Hard Luck, Ak
        United States
        Member #23472
        October 13, 2005
        301 Posts
        Posted: February 27, 2014, 9:13 am - IP Logged

        COOLLLLLL!!!! Good thing he went back in and picked up that "mistake". It may not always come when you want it to....but it "always on time!" when it does. I just hit for 1,000.00 in bingo on Monday so hopefully my next hit will be the big one! Congrats! Good luck everyone and remember you have to be "in it to win it!" Quitters never win and winners never quit......unless it's smoking!

        "We make a living by what you get, You make a LIFE by what you give!"

                                                                       Sir Winston ChurchillSun Smiley

          United States
          Member #116504
          September 12, 2011
          305 Posts
          Posted: February 27, 2014, 9:14 am - IP Logged

          Congratulations Jerry Kajfasz!

            CDanaT's avatar - tiger avatar_04_hd_pictures_169016.jpg
            E. TX
            United States
            Member #121193
            January 4, 2012
            2098 Posts
            Posted: February 27, 2014, 9:29 am - IP Logged

            Congrats to the Kajfasz family! I always take mistake tickets Thumbs Up

            I Agree!

              dpoly1's avatar - driver
              United States
              Member #66141
              October 16, 2008
              1803 Posts
              Posted: February 27, 2014, 9:40 am - IP Logged

              I am waiting for the lottery machine to make a mistake and print out the winning ticket for me LOL



              dpoly1 - Playing the lottery to save the jobs of those that build, transport, sell & maintain luxury items! -


              Eschew Poverty ........... Vote Conservative!

                Kee12's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
                I rep CA
                Member #144812
                July 17, 2013
                76 Posts
                Posted: February 27, 2014, 9:57 am - IP Logged

                Awesome story. Congratulations to him and his family.

                I'd be a fool to surrender when I know I can be a contender...I C U when U get there - Coolio

                  Jill34786's avatar - Lottery-006.jpg
                  Windermere, FL/Franklin, TN
                  United States
                  Member #50210
                  March 1, 2007
                  843 Posts
                  Posted: February 27, 2014, 10:02 am - IP Logged

                  This article is a little confusing. It mentions the winner getting either a guaranteed $10 million or $10k per week for life but later on states that

                  he gets 19 more payments and his family keeps collecting after his lifetime.

                  Is this prize capped at 20 years or was it just a typo when it mentioned the 19 payments?

                  ** Some people fulfill their dreams by receiving entitlements from the Government while others wake up and work hard for it! **

                    Gleno's avatar - Lottery-001.jpg
                    New Jersey
                    United States
                    Member #80354
                    September 25, 2009
                    722 Posts
                    Posted: February 27, 2014, 10:25 am - IP Logged

                    Like this "mistake" story. Was in line yesterday and customer was upset because the clerk made mistake on his pick 3 selections. Was tempted to tell him it could be lucky bet, but better thought to keep my big mouth shut!


                      brownsy's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
                      United States
                      Member #75040
                      May 25, 2009
                      1104 Posts
                      Posted: February 27, 2014, 10:43 am - IP Logged

                      Hope he gave the clerk a big tip

                        New Member
                        Buffalo, NY
                        United States
                        Member #113965
                        July 20, 2011
                        4 Posts
                        Posted: February 27, 2014, 11:31 am - IP Logged

                        That's the same store where I buy my gas and tickets. I hope the good luck continues! The people there are very nice by the way!

                          United States
                          Member #23835
                          October 16, 2005
                          3779 Posts
                          Posted: February 27, 2014, 12:00 pm - IP Logged

                          This article is a little confusing. It mentions the winner getting either a guaranteed $10 million or $10k per week for life but later on states that

                          he gets 19 more payments and his family keeps collecting after his lifetime.

                          Is this prize capped at 20 years or was it just a typo when it mentioned the 19 payments?

                          "the ticket is in Frank's name"

                          That's the son. The minimum 20 payments will be made regardless of who does or doesn't die. Assuming the son, who's probably about 30, lives, the payments will continue until he does die.

                          Seems awfully generous of the lottery when it's seems very clear that it's the father who is the winner.

                            sully16's avatar - sharan
                            United States
                            Member #81740
                            October 28, 2009
                            56919 Posts
                            Posted: February 27, 2014, 12:21 pm - IP Logged

                            Great story, Congrats to the lucky guy,

                            Bag of popcorn, $1.99

                            Watching traitors throw each other under the bus, PRICELESS !