A Massachusetts woman who accidentally tossed out a $1 million lottery ticket eventually collected her winnings thanks to the kindness and honesty of the owners of the convenience store where she bought it.
Lea Rose Fiega bought the $30 Diamond Millions scratch-off ticket in March at the Lucky Stop convenience store in Southwick near where she works.
"I was in a hurry, on lunch break, and just scratched it real quick, and looked at it, and it didn't look like a winner, so I handed it over to them to throw away," she said Monday.
The ticket lay behind the counter for 10 days.
"One evening, I was going through the tickets from the trash and found out that she didn't scratch the number," Abhi Shah, the son of the store's owners, told WWLP-TV. "I scratched the number and it was $1 million underneath the ticket."
Fiega is a regular customer, so the family knew immediately who had discarded it.
Shah told WBZ-TV he initially wanted to buy a Tesla with the winnings, but the family decided to talk it over first, and they included Shah's grandparents in India in the conversation.
"My grandmother said, 'Let's not keep the ticket. It's not right. Just give it back to them. If it's in your luck, you will get it anyhow,'" Shah told the station.
Shah went to see Fiega at work.
"He came to my office and said, 'My mom and dad would like to see you,'" she said. "I said, 'I'm working,' and he said, 'No you have to come over.' So I went over there and that's when they told me. I was in total disbelief. I cried, I hugged them."
Fiega said overcoming a near-fatal bout with COVID-19 in January was like "winning the lottery," so she feels doubly fortunate.
"I mean, who does that? They're great people. I am beyond blessed," she said.
Other customers are not surprised the Shahs did the right thing.
"They're just purely good people," one customer said. "You can tell by just talking to them."
And now the family is fielding congratulatory calls and interview requests from across the country.
"If I had kept that million, I wouldn't have been this famous. So I'm glad I gave it back," Abhi said.
He could have bought a lot of things with that money, but it would have cost him his soul.
"Got to make big guy happy upstairs."
The store gets a $10,000 bonus from the state lottery commission for selling the winning ticket. Fiega said she gave the family an additional reward. She's saving the rest for retirement.
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Thanks to TheMeatman2005 for the tip.
There are still a few good people left in this world, but becoming fewer every day.
I wish her well with her winnings.
Wow here we go again, another careless lottery player. She goes for the $30 dollar ticket, doesn't bother to scratch the ticket properly and tosses it. Lucky for her the store people held it for her otherwise it's finders Keepers. I'm going to go dumpster diving for scratchers in 2023!.
A great story. I don't see it as a careless lottery player. I have looked at online photos of scratch off tickets and all the ways you can win and it seems somewhat confusing.
Didn't LP cover this story in 2021, round about mid year? I could have sworn l read this article before, nevertheless all's well that ends well.
I agree. Some tickets are confusing. I've never found a winner on the ground, but I have found tickets that could have been mailed in for 2nd chance drawings and sent them in. No big winners though.
I have the lottery app and scan my tickets with it just to be sure.
All you need to do is reveal the bar code and scan it! She was too lazy to do just that!
IDK about newer MA scratch tickets since last time I played there they were the last in the country to have the old noisy dot matrix lottery machines. Anyway back then it specifically stated on the bottom of the ticket VOID IF REMOVED where the barcode is. Only state I knew/know of that did that. Mind you this was before they had scanning machines for the customer to use.
Hey Westborough MA LP member...does MA still say that on the bottom of scratch tickets???
I used to pick up discarded 2nd chance scratchers and enter them but never won anything and got bored with it. I do not recall that scanner number always being scratched on those tickets. I observe people scratching those tickets vs scanning them.
I have the app also but did not realize they worked on scratchers. I did buy a $20 VA New Year's raffle ticket since the odds were much better and scanned it and it said the drawing had not occurred yet. Lol. Just out of curiosity.
especially considering it was a $30 ticket.
It's not uncommon to see a stack of tickets with just the bar codes scratched next to a scanner. And many state lotteries offer a phone app to scan scratched and paper tickets.
good for her
That store had too much to loose. I had a cashier steal from me, a winning $500.00 Easy 5 ticket with Easy Match. The lottery looked into it, and that store never sold anymore lottery tickets ever again. If a retailer steals from a player, that store has their lottery license revoked forever.