LINCOLN, Kansas — A Lincoln County, Kansas, man is $1 million richer, thanks to a Salina gas station employee. The lottery winner's brother accidentally dropped the winning ticket at a gas station over the weekend, before the numbers were checked.
The winner, who lives in Lincoln Co. and chose to remain anonymous, told lottery officials he was rushing to go watch the NCAA Tournament when they decided to stop in Salina for gas.
"My brother went in to check my tickets. He apparently dropped the unsigned Mega Millions ticket, and then we left to go back home," the winner explained.
The Lottery said the clerk's reaction upon finding the ticket: Call the store's owner to see if they could return it. The store owner's son went in to help find the winner, so they could give it back.
"We had already been home for about an hour, and then went out and ran another errand. As we passed the store, the owner's son pulled out behind us and flagged us down. He explained what happened and handed me the ticket, and I just couldn't believe it!" the winner explained.
Despite local media attempts to discover which gas station the Good Samaritan works at, the Kansas Lottery isn't saying.
The winning ticket was actually sold about 40 miles away in Lincoln, a town of a little more than 1,200 people.
Katie Black is a clerk at the town's Mity Mart, the store that actually sold the million-dollar ticket.
"I am so excited for this person," Black says of the big winner. "I wish I knew who it was but they choose to stay anonymous and we really do respect that."
As with most small towns, word travels fast in Lincoln. Just about everyone in the close-knit community wonders who among them could be a new millionaire.
"We've been racking our brains all morning thinking, 'who have I sold a Mega Millions ticket to in the last week?'" Black says.
The convenience store in Lincoln would not be celebrating the sale without the help of another gas station somewhere in Salina.
And now gas station employees in Salina want to know how is behind the good deed that made sure the owner of the winning ticket gets his payday.
"It's just nice to know there are still good Samaritans around, not just pure greed," says Snak Atak clerk Shelly Thomas.
The Mity Mart will receive a $1,000 bonus for selling the ticket.