Welcome Guest
Log In | Register )
You last visited December 9, 2016, 12:40 am
All times shown are
Eastern Time (GMT-5:00)

NJ store owner returns lost $2M lottery ticket

New Jersey LotteryNew Jersey Lottery: NJ store owner returns lost $2M lottery ticket
51
Rating:

A cynical person might say that the odds of meeting a truly honest person are the same as winning the lottery. But at one Rutherford convenience store, you'll find the odds are good of finding both a winning ticket and an honest store owner, who returned a winning scratch-off with a $2 million jackpot to a regular customer after it ended up unclaimed in the garbage.

Owner Yogi Patel and his wife Vilsa own Leprechaun News on Park Avenue by the traffic circle. Nestled between a bank and a parking lot across from the train station, the store sees its share of customers who stop in regularly, and even daily, to play the lottery or pick up scratch-off tickets. One such familiar face is a local man — we will call him John Smith — who sees that there's something lucky at the Leprechaun.

Like many of his customers, Yogi said he and his son Jay who operates another convenience store, and Smith know each other by name. Smith drops in every now and again and typically buys between $200 and $300 in a variety of tickets.

In what's become a regular routine, Smith came in March 19 and purchased some instant game tickets, including some for the game Double Diamond Spectacular. Being close to 6 p.m., Yogi was out at dinner and Vilsa was minding the store. Scratching off the cover to reveal the bar code at the bottom, Smith handed over the tickets one-by-one for Vilsa to scan, reading the screen to see if it was a winner and continuing to scratch more from his pile. Once he had sorted through his pile and cashed in the awards from the smaller winning tickets, he left the store, and the pile of unsuccessful ones went into a box of unsuccessful tickets behind the counter.

Yogi returned later that evening and his wife told him that he had missed Smith's visit, and that he cashed in some of his winning tickets.

Going through the list on the computer, Yogi made an astounding discovery — a ticket worth $1,375,000 when redeemed came up on the receipt as being scanned.

"It's the biggest prize I've ever seen on this [receipt]," Yogi said.

Trouble was, no customer had come forward as being the winner.

Double Diamond Spectacular stuck in Yogi's mind as being one favored by Smith because not many people play the $20 game. The owners also remembered that Smith had come in around the time listed on the receipt and had sorted through a stack of tickets.

"I thought 'oh this guy plays this ticket,'" Yogi recalled. This detail also came in handy because by happenstance, his camera happened to not be working that day, so identifying the correct players would have been a challenge.

Yogi dug through the trash box, and managed to locate the golden ticket.

With the help of his son Jay, Yogi called Smith and told him to come in for an "emergency."

A short time later when Smith arrived, Yogi presented him with the winning ticket — the one he nearly threw away.

"I just gave him the ticket, I said to him 'it's your ticket, it's $2 million dollars.' He was in shock," said Yogi. "He said to me, 'Yogi I cannot believe it.'"

Together, they got the ball rolling on the paperwork needed for him to claim the winnings, aided by an inspector for the New Jersey Lottery, who had been notified by the barcode being scanned and visited on March 20.

A New Jersey Lottery representative confirmed that the $2 million jackpot ticket had been claimed.

Telling the store about the special Double Diamond Spectacular, Yogi greeted his customers by name as they came in to purchase what they hoped was the next lucky ticket.

When asked why he wanted to make sure the true winner got his winning ticket, Yogi said the answer is simple.

"Because I don't want anybody else's money, it's not my money," he said. He recalled how his father, who sadly passed away just a day after moving to the United States, had always worked hard all his life for other people.

Yogi said Smith still comes in now and again to play the lottery.

His store has proven to be a lucky location for big buck winners in the past. In 2005, a Mega Millions player bought the winning $250 million jackpot ticket at the store. Customers have also purchased tickets for other big jackpots over the years — $50,000, $60,000 and $63,000.

The store's luck is reflected in the name, Leprechaun News, said Yogi.

The Patels have operated the store on Park Avenue for close to 20 years.

Thanks to Steve for the tip.

North Jersey

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

22 comments. Last comment 1 year ago by SilverLion.
Page 1 of 2
MaximumMillions's avatar - Lottery-013.jpg

Germany
Member #164603
March 8, 2015
613 Posts
Offline
Posted: July 17, 2015, 1:32 pm - IP Logged

How many Patels are there?

    music*'s avatar - nw bookeep.jpg
    Happy California
    United States
    Member #157856
    August 2, 2014
    1522 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: July 17, 2015, 2:17 pm - IP Logged

    This is the second story here on LP that featured a Patel doing the correct thing. Character counts.  I just found the first story . It is on this page on the related stories upper right side. A woman throws out a $100,000.00 ticket and Raj Patel saves it for her.

    US Flag

     I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, rich is better. 

     Attributed to Joe E. Lewis and others

      haymaker's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
      Egg Harbor twp.south Jersey shore
      United States
      Member #112968
      June 29, 2011
      3856 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: July 17, 2015, 2:39 pm - IP Logged

      How many Patels are there?

      The name has been compared to Smith, although the people I know named Smith are not to thrilled about that.

       

      I guess one day we'll read a story where the writer says: ...Local man- we will call him Yogi Patel...

      In any case here's to you Yogi Cheers

      Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds    -- Charles Mackay  LL.D.

        uprrman's avatar - nw bookeep.jpg
        harvard,il
        United States
        Member #96756
        September 4, 2010
        2462 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: July 17, 2015, 2:58 pm - IP Logged

        The name has been compared to Smith, although the people I know named Smith are not to thrilled about that.

         

        I guess one day we'll read a story where the writer says: ...Local man- we will call him Yogi Patel...

        In any case here's to you Yogi Cheers

        I Agree!Cheerscheers

        i want to be a millionaire a second time!

          Avatar
          new jersey
          United States
          Member #150815
          December 31, 2013
          513 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: July 17, 2015, 3:02 pm - IP Logged

          good  people

            maximumfun's avatar - Lottery-030.jpg
            Lavender Rocket

            United States
            Member #124616
            March 16, 2012
            2642 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: July 17, 2015, 3:27 pm - IP Logged

            What a lovely story!  Thanks for posting it Todd.

              Avatar
              akron, ohio
              United States
              Member #163666
              February 7, 2015
              34 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: July 17, 2015, 3:36 pm - IP Logged

              Befor i even read the story i thought patel. my idea is they clean out the trash cans. keep the losers for write off when they cash big winners. little prizes were players scratch long losers and never check n when they scanned and seen the prize no choice but to turn it back in

                Avatar
                ozone park
                United States
                Member #57042
                December 15, 2007
                274 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: July 17, 2015, 5:00 pm - IP Logged

                I hope that the person gives them some kind of reward not for being honest because being honest should be something we expect from everyone., But because it is nice to pay it forward so that kindness and honesty get paid forward, And I hope that the public goes and shows their APPRECIATION by spending their money in their store. I am from NYC but I will go to NJ at some point to show my appreciation by spending money in their store.

                  loonasee2's avatar - ty789 zpsxdhaaskf.jpg
                  Orangutan Forest
                  United States
                  Member #95128
                  August 4, 2010
                  12805 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: July 17, 2015, 5:29 pm - IP Logged

                  ^5 Good Karma ,.......................there

                  cashbuckets of cash

                    Avatar

                    United States
                    Member #149820
                    December 9, 2013
                    644 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: July 17, 2015, 6:15 pm - IP Logged

                    Guess all the "Patel bashers" will have to pick their jaws off the floor tonight LOL!!

                      Avatar
                      Maryland
                      United States
                      Member #162434
                      January 2, 2015
                      889 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: July 17, 2015, 6:19 pm - IP Logged

                      WAIT A SECOND!!! From the below passage, it appears that the winning ticket was scanned by the clerk? or was it the self checker by the customer?

                      If it was the clerk then why did they not SEE the winner when scanned?

                       

                      Once he had sorted through his pile and cashed in the awards from the smaller winning tickets, he left the store, and the pile of unsuccessful ones went into a box of unsuccessful tickets behind the counter.

                      Yogi returned later that evening and his wife told him that he had missed Smith's visit, and that he cashed in some of his winning tickets.

                        Taurus$'s avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
                        Ft. Washington, MD
                        United States
                        Member #159267
                        September 20, 2014
                        123 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: July 17, 2015, 6:19 pm - IP Logged

                        Boy, that name patel seems to be popping up in lottery stories a lot. Makes you wonder how many of those patels own lottery terminals so we can go try our luck with them. Lol

                          Avatar

                          United States
                          Member #122691
                          February 6, 2012
                          330 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: July 17, 2015, 7:58 pm - IP Logged

                          This idiot deserved to lose the ticket and the money, they are lucky they were dealing with one of the 10 honest Patels in the world. What kind of dummy just scratches off the barcode area and then hands it to a clerk to check? It is like asking to get ripped off. He should give them at least 25% up to as much as 50% because without them he would have nothing. 

                            rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
                            Texas
                            United States
                            Member #55889
                            October 23, 2007
                            5611 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: July 17, 2015, 8:05 pm - IP Logged

                            WAIT A SECOND!!! From the below passage, it appears that the winning ticket was scanned by the clerk? or was it the self checker by the customer?

                            If it was the clerk then why did they not SEE the winner when scanned?

                             

                            Once he had sorted through his pile and cashed in the awards from the smaller winning tickets, he left the store, and the pile of unsuccessful ones went into a box of unsuccessful tickets behind the counter.

                            Yogi returned later that evening and his wife told him that he had missed Smith's visit, and that he cashed in some of his winning tickets.

                            Vilsa, the wife scanned them. Apparently she somehow missed the winning ticket. I can't imagine how that could happen, if the scanner sets off a sound or tone to signify a winner. Maybe it doesn't. I never use the scanners.

                            CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

                            A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)