SAN JOSE, Calif. - With over $830 million on the line, lottery fever swept over the Bay Area. Mega Millions hasn’t had a winner since April. Some people decided they’d better take their chances at winning it all. When nobody won, the lottery jackpot ballooned to $1.02 billion – the nation's 4th largest lottery prize.
"I’m a high school principal. My staff really believes that I am lucky, so they pooled the money, and they gave it to me. They searched the store, and they said this one," said Mary Pollett, who lives nearby in San Jose.
Pollett says her staff pooled together about $80 to buy tickets. Ernie’s Liquors in San Jose sort of has a reputation now for selling winning lottery tickets. Back in 2018, the store sold a Mega Millions ticket worth $522 million.
"So I think there’s some money from the Lottery that goes to education. I’ve learned, right? So I hope with this big amount, we will benefit some or our students will," Pollett said.
Taking care of others with the winnings is what the founder of Raising Cane’s fast-food restaurants had on his mind too. Todd Graves bought Mega Millions tickets for each of the company’s 50,000 employees. The restaurant chain recently opened a store in Oakland.
"We've been around for 25 years now. We've always believed in staying together as a family, taking care of each other.... Uh, you know, things are hard out there. You know, people are seeing it on their grocery shelves and their gas stations, all of it. So, when jackpot came to this big, large number, we wanted to do this, so Todd said, 'Man, let's just do it. Let's do it for every crew member," said AJ Kumaran, Raising Cane’s CEO.
As the anticipation rose throughout the day Tuesday, one woman says she has a strategy and went to multiple stores to make sure she had a chance to win.
"I filled them out last night, and I was on my way to dinner. I thought Oh my God, I have to go do my tickets. So I stopped at the 7-11 over there, filled some out, but they ran out of paper. So, I came here, and now I’m doing some more," said Carrie Smith, from Morgan Hill.
A single ticket-winner of this jackpot can opt to take the $830 million over 30 years or get a lump sum of $487.9 million.
No one matched all six numbers Tuesday night to win the top prize.
The numbers are 7, 29, 60, 63, 66, with a Mega Ball of 15. The Megaplier is 3.