An out-of-work man nearly lost out on a $273 million lottery win after he left his Mega Millions ticket lying on the counter at the store where he purchased his tickets, CBS News reported.
But 54-year-old Mike Weirsky of Alpha, New Jersey, got lucky.
When he went back to the store the next day, his tickets were there. A good Samaritan had turned them in for safekeeping until the owner returned.
"I'm very thankful there was an honest person out there because I figured [the ticket] was gone," Weirsky said Thursday
That was Feb. 28, a day before the drawing.
Weirsky told reporters during a news conference at the New Jersey Lottery Headquarters that he was messing with his phone after he had purchased his tickets last week.
"It's the typical cellphone deal, paying more attention to my cellphone," he explained. "I put the tickets down, put my money away, and did something with my phone, and just walked away."
He went back to the Quick Check store in Phillipsburg, near the Pennsylvania border, where he had purchased the tickets and found they had been placed in a drawer. The cashier gave him his tickets and he went on his way.
On Sunday night, two days after the drawing, Weirsky finally pulled out his cellphone and checked his tickets.
The first set of numbers didn't win.
Then, he scanned the second set, and that's when he learned he was the jackpot winner.
"Hey, that just said that I was the jackpot winner," Weirsky told his mother. "And she's like,'What's that mean?'"
"I said, 'I won $273 million' and she said, 'Get the hell out of here!'" he told reporters at the news conference.
"I couldn't believe I was the winner of more than $2 after playing after all these years," Weirsky said.
He said that he's planning to take the $162.5 million cash payout.
"I was down," Weirsky said. "Now, all of a sudden, I'm way up."
Did he find out who turned in the tickets?
A cashier at the store was cleaning up at the end of the night when he found the lottery tickets.
"So, I put them for safekeeping under our register," cashier Phil Campolo told ABC News.
Weirsky had a chance to thank Campolo at the store earlier this week.
"I don't want to get emotional on camera, but I can't ask for a better friend," Weirsky told the cashier. "And I'm sure we're going to be friends.
"I'm going to give him something, but I'm going to keep that quiet," Weirksy told reporters.
What does he plan to do with the money?
He also said he plans to buy a pickup truck and a new car for his mom.
"After that, I'm basically locked into what my lawyer and other people I have working for me tell me I can do," Weirsky said, according to ABC News.
The new millionaire added that he doesn't plan on starting a business or going to work.
He wants to "sit back and enjoy it."
Weirsky told reporters that he hasn't had a job in 15 years and that he was recently divorced.
He said he had a job interview lined up but then he found out he was a big winner so he canceled.
"I had to deny it before I even went," Weirsky said.