An unemployed man in New Jersey won $273 million in the lottery, but almost lost his winning ticket

  • An unemployed man in New Jersey nearly missed out on a $US273 million jackpot because he left the winning ticket at the store because he was distracted by his phone.
  • A mystery person found the ticket, and returned it to the store employees.
  • Mike Weirsky, the winner, turned down a job interview upon winning the lottery and now plans to buy a pickup truck and take his family on vacation.
  • He said he also wants to find the person who returned his ticket so he can thank them.

A man in New Jersey won $US273 million in the lottery last week but almost missed out because he left his ticket in the convenience store.

Mike Weirsky, an unemployed and recently-divorced 54-year-old, told reporters he left the ticket at the Quick Check in Phillipsburg last Thursday because he was distracted by his phone, and only noticed it was missing once he arrived at home in Alpha, according to The Associated Press (AP) and ABC7 news.

After looking for three hours, he concluded it was “just another thing [he’d] lost,” but ultimately decided to return to the store, he told reporters on Thursday.

Upon returning to the store on Friday, Weirsky found that a mystery person had returned his ticket to the store clerk. They could have signed the ticket to claim it for themselves, lottery officials said Thursday.

Weirsky, a longtime lottery player, noticed on Sunday that the number on his ticket matched the Mega Millions jackpot, which was announced last Friday.

“It’s going to change everything because I’m unemployed,” he told reporters Thursday.

Weirsky was a stay-at-home husband for 15 years before divorcing his wife last fall. He moved to New Jersey in the hopes of finding a new job, but failed to secure any interviews for about a year, he told reporters.

He said he received his first interview offer on Wednesday, but immediately turned it down after his lottery win.

Instead he plans to buy a pickup truck for himself and a new car for his mother, pay to remodel her home, and then wait on further instruction from his lawyers.

Then if he gets permission to “go crazy,” he plans on taking his family on vacation.

“I was down, and now I’m way up,” he said. “I don’t know how much higher I can get.”


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‘I want to thank him’

Weirsky said he also wants to find and thank the mystery person who returned the ticket to the store clerk.

“I’m looking for the guy that handed them in, I want to thank him,” he said. “I’m going to give him something, but I’m going to keep that private.”

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