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California delivery driver claims half of $648 million jackpot

Jan 3, 2014, 3:25 pm

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Mega Millions

Didn't check his lottery ticket for two weeks

A delivery driver from Northern California rang in the New Year by walking into the California Lottery headquarters in Sacramento with a ticket worth $324 million.

The California Lottery identified the winner as Steve Tran, who has chosen to take his winnings in one lump sum and will receive $173.8 million before federal taxes.

Tran told lottery officials that after learning he had the winning ticket, he made a call to his boss: "I'm really sorry boss. I hit the jackpot. I don't think I'm going to come in today, tomorrow, or ever."

California Lottery spokesman Russ Lopez said Tran came in to the Sacramento office at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, ending a two-week mystery over the identity of the newly minted multi-millionaire.

The winning numbers were drawn on Dec. 17, and when it was announced one of the winning tickets was purchased at a gift store on Tully Road, San Jose was buzzing about who was the lucky owner.

Tran did not want to talk with reporters but did share some of his story with Lottery officials, Lopez said.

On the day after the winning numbers were drawn, Tran said he watched the story in the news, not knowing he was the lucky winner.

"Everybody was anxious, looking for the person," Tran told the California Lottery. "Must be a lucky man."

Tran said he did not realize he was in possession of the winning ticket until Monday. Tran said he has a pile of lottery tickets purchased from other towns sitting on his drawer, and out of nowhere he realized he may have bought a ticket in San Jose.

"I woke up in the middle of the night," Tran told the Lottery officials. "I remembered, I think I went to San Jose."

When Tran checked his tickets, he made the $324 millions discovery. He was a multi-millionaire.

Tran says he and his family visit San Jose because there is a large Vietnamese community there, plus they can eat and shop. Tran said he bought five quick pick tickets at Jenny's Gift & Kids Wear, a store tucked away in a Tully Road strip mall.

Nguyen said he remembers Tran but added he did not stop by his shop that often.

Nguyen said he feels "proud for him, happy for him."

Being the source of the winner's good fortune, he felt like he made a contribution to the community.

"That must have been the reason I'm here," Nguyen said.

Nguyen's lottery sales have jumped by about 30 percent since he sold the winning Mega Millions ticket. Friday morning, he went through a 20-minute stretch of selling tickets, telling each customer "I wish you the best."

Tran is one of two winners in the $648 million drawing — the second-largest jackpot in U.S. history. The other newly minted multimillionaire, Ira Curry of Georgia, claimed her winnings and immediately dropped out of sight. She is taking her bonanza as a lump sum — $123 million after taxes.

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