Two winning lottery tickets sold by Asian shop owners

By Johnny Clark
Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) – Two lucky winning tickets were sold in this week’s near-record $636 million Mega Millions drawing. One ticket was sold at a tiny newsstand in Atlanta, the other more than 2,000 miles away at a gift shop in California.

One ticketholders’ identity may remain a mystery for months — California gives the winner a year to come forward. Lottery officials identified the Georgia winner as Ira Curry of Stone Mountain, east of Atlanta.

For selling a winning ticket in Tuesday’s drawing, Thuy Nguyen, owner of Jennifer’s Gift Shop in San Jose, Calif., will get $1 million for selling a winning ticket, California Lottery officials said.

But his counterparts in Georgia — Young Soolee and Young Lee, who own a Gateway Newsstand at on office building in upscale northern Atlanta — get no bonus beyond the usual 6 percent commission on store lottery sales, Georgia lottery officials said.

Lee said Wednesday that he hadn’t heard anything official from the state lottery office yet. But still, he said, “This is good for me and my family,” noting the publicity that the winning ticket would bring the store, even without a bonus.

Policies on store bonuses — along with those on how long a winner has to claim a prize and whether their name goes public — vary by state, according to an e-mail from Paula Otto, Mega Millions lead director.

Nguyen told KNTV he doesn’t know who bought the winning ticket at his store, which sits along San Jose’s tree-lined Tully Road, amid a cluster of Asian restaurants. But it’s likely someone he knows — most of his customers are his friends. “I feel good! I don’t even know, I can’t sleep,” Nguyen told the station.

Earlier media reports indicated Soolee would receive a bonus for selling a winning ticket. But Georgia Lottery spokeswoman Tandi Reddick clarified that’s not the case.

“They do have the distinction of being known as the lucky store now, and that’s always great news for them,” Reddick said.

Each state that participates in Mega Millions follows its own statutes, regulations, and governing board, Ott said. With winning numbers of 8, 14, 17, 20, 39, and Mega Ball 7, Tuesday’s jackpot was the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. The chances of winning the jackpot are about 1 in 259 million. (end)

Associated Press writers Jeff Martin in Atlanta and Sudhin Thanawala in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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