Lottery player made richer after a selfless act of kindness
By Kate Northrop
SOUTHWICK, Mass. — A woman almost lost out on a million dollars after throwing away a lottery ticket that she thought was a loser, but a family made a selfless decision to return the ticket to her when they discovered it was worth much more than she thought.
The Shah family, who runs the Lucky Stop liquor store on College Highway in Southwick, Massachusetts, had a regular customer hand back a $30 "Diamond Millions" scratch-off ticket after she told them it wasn't worth anything. The ticket sat in the store for ten days before a closer look led the family to an ethical crossroad.
One night, Abhi Shah, the son of store owner Maunish Shah, was sifting through the lottery tickets in the trash bin when he found the fateful ticket.
"One evening, I was going through the tickets from the trash and outside, and I found out that she didn't scratch the number," Abhi told WWLP. "I scratched the number, and it was one million dollars underneath the ticket."
The Shah's grappled with the choice in front of them — keep the $1 million winning ticket for themselves, or return it to the customer who threw it out?
"I mean, I had $1 million in my hand, and on the other hand, I wanted to do something good," Abhi deliberated.
At first, the Shah's tried to justify keeping the ticket and asked other family members if they needed money.
"We didn't sleep two nights," Maunish admitted. "[Abhi] called my mom, grandparents in India, and asked what to do. They said, 'Give it back. We don't want that money.'"
It was a difficult decision to make, but in the end, the Shah's decided to return the ticket to the customer who bought it. She shopped at Lucky Stop regularly, so they simply had to wait for her to come by.
"As soon as she came in, I hand her [the] $1 million ticket, and she freaked out and cried like a baby," Abhi recalled. "She sat down on the floor right here."
The lucky winner was Lea Rose Fiega of Springfield, who, thanks to the Shah's kindness, walked away with a $1 million top prize before taxes. The store also received a $10,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.
The "Diamond Millions" game offered 80 top prizes of $1 million in cash, 120 second prizes of $20,000, and 700 third prizes of $3,000 at the start of the game in April 2019.