LAWRENCE TWP., N.J. -- A man who has been unemployed for 15 years, and had just gotten divorced back in October, was at the New Jersey Lottery Headquarters on Thursday to claim the $273 million Mega Millions jackpot.
Michael J. Weirsky, a resident of Alpha in Warren County, New Jersey, was the sole winner.
The drawing was held on Friday, March 1, 2019.
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He purchased his lucky ticket at QuickCheck, a store near his home where he frequently purchases his lottery tickets.
Weirsky had two tickets to check that weekend. The first ticket was not a winner. After reviewing the second and seeing a lot of matching numbers, he knew he had to get it to the store immediately to confirm he had a winner.
He ventured out in a snowstorm to his closest retailer to scan the ticket. He read the good news in person.
It was a jackpot-winning ticket!
"I just didn't believe it. I just didn't believe that it was me, after all these years of playing, I finally had something that said you're a big winner than $2," Weirsky said.
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Perhaps most shocking about Weirsky's jackpot win is the fact that he almost lost the ticket right after he purchased it. He forgot the ticket on the counter of the store.
Weirsky said he initially forgot the winning ticket at the store because he was distracted by his phone.
Someone found them and gave them to the store to hold. When Weirsky returned on Friday, he verified the tickets were his and store employees returned them.
Lottery officials said Thursday that if the person who found the tickets had held onto them and signed them, they could have claimed the jackpot.
"I'm looking for the guy that handed them in, I want to thank him," Weirsky said. "I'm going to give him something, but I'm going to keep that private."
Meanwhile, Weirsky said he has heard from his ex-wife.
"She just called me today and told me she's taking me back to court," he said.
The $273 million jackpot has a cash option of $162 million.
"I always wanted to know what it would be like to able to just wake up and just go somewhere or go buy something and just do it," said Weirsky. "When I get the money I am going to do that. I am going to try that."
The retailer that sold the winning ticket, QuickChek at 600 New Brunswick Avenue in Phillipsburg, received a $30,000 bonus check for selling the winning ticket.
Mega Millions: Lottery winner forgot winning ticket in New Jersey store
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