Mike Weirsky nearly gave away $273 million to a complete stranger, but a good Samaritan saved the day.
The unemployed New Jersey man won last week’s Mega Millions jackpot after buying the winning ticket at a store in Phillipsburg, WSET reported. It almost never came to be, however, as Weirsky was preoccupied on his phone after buying the tickets and accidentally left them in the store.
“I put the tickets down, put my money away, did something with my phone and just walked away,” he told reporters at the press conference announcing his win (as seen on YouTube).
Someone found the already purchased tickets, however, and turned them back into the store to hold. When Weirsky realized he had forgotten the tickets, he returned to the store and verified that they belonged to him.
It was a huge stroke of luck, as Weirsky found out that he beat the 1 in 302,575,350 odds to win the multi-state lottery. Mike Weirsky said he has been playing the lottery for years. He was so excited at his win that he braved a snowstorm to return to the store where he bought it and confirm his win.
At Weirsky’s press conference this week to talk about his $273 million win, lottery officials confirmed that the person who found the tickets would have been legally allowed to keep them and claim the prize for themselves, but chose to do the right thing.
Weirsky said he wants to pay the person back.
“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.”
The good Samaritan may have already come forward. A store employee named Phil Campolo NBC News said he found the tickets and turned them back in to wait for the rightful owner to claim them. Campolo said he would do it again.
“My parents raised me to be a good person, honest, sincere,” he told the news outlet. “I was doing the right thing, and I’d do it again.”
There was even more good luck for Mike Weirsky beyond his lottery win, NPR reported. After hunting for a job for years, the New Jersey man said he finally got an inside track on a job and had his first interview the day before his lottery jackpot win was announced. Now a quarter of a billion dollars richer, Weirsky said he will pass on taking the job.