Winning lottery ticket creates havoc
November 23, 2011
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
Easy money has its price.
It’s an old lesson being learned anew by employees at 1-Stop, the little corner convenience store in Paso Robles where Charles Hairston purchased his $78 million lottery ticket.
The 82-year-old Korean War vet bought the golden ducat Nov. 1 and learned later that same night that he had won. But he did not come forward until 18 days later, and during that time, said Mary Booker, the employee who sold the ticket, things around the store changed. A lot.
Because of the uncertainty created by the lack of a clear-cut winner, people began hanging out around the establishment, doing some dumpster diving, even checking out neighbors’ trash cans. Others would enter the store and poke through the merchandise, on the off chance that the winning ticket would be tucked between the peanut butter and the Pampers.
Booker, with a sigh of resignation, said that many people started to ask a lot of questions that she believes were personal: “Are you rich now? How much will you get? When do you get paid?” Everybody, it seemed, had a question.
Owners of the store, Paul and Sara Atwal, will get $390,000, according to lottery officials, and plan to share with their employees.
Booker said people would try to trick her into revealing the name of the winner, often “by pretending that they already knew” the person’s identity.
“It really got insane,” she said, “and it still is, kind of. But I really think people’s intentions are good. It’s just that this has never happened around here, so there is a lot of curiosity.”
No, she said, there has been no payment yet. She doesn’t know when that will happen. And asked if she remembers to whom she sold the ticket, Booker just smiles.