Modestan scores $259K in Mega Millions; tonight's jackpot $363M

beestaff@modbee.comMarch 26, 2012 

— Nobody picked all six numbers in a Mega Millions lottery drawing last week.

But one man struck it rich with a ticket he bought at O'Brien's Market in Modesto.

Edward Tobias won $259,268 for picking five of six numbers in Friday's Mega Millions draw, which climbs to a whopping $363 million with today's 8 p.m. Pacific time drawing.

Tobias, a longtime lottery player, went to O'Brien's in Roseburg Square on Saturday to check his numbers, according to lottery officials.

When he put his number into the machine, there was a message that read: "Submit claim form."

He immediately thought something was wrong. On the second try, he discovered he had won and immediately put the winning ticket in his sweater and went home to tell his wife.

"She couldn't believe it," he said.

Tobias said she described the large prize as "unbelievable."

Store manager Richard O'Brien was happy for his regular customer. O'Brien discovered his store had sold the winning ticket when a customer saw it on TV and called him.

O'Brien said stores receive one-half of 1 percent, estimating that Tobias' good fortune will net the store about $1,300.

"I can make my numbers this month," he jokingly said.

O'Brien said when the Roseburg store was a few blocks away at West Orangeburg and Ardmore avenues, it sold a $1 million ticket.

"So lightning does strike twice," he said.

Sweet jackpot

A third time today would be the charm — a huge one.

Today's draw will be for the third-largest Mega Millions jackpot in the history of the multistate game.

The jackpot is the largest since January 2011 when the total reached $380 million. The all-time jackpot record was $390 million in March 2007.

The huge jackpot has garnered huge interest at area vendors. Shop owners have noticed a marked increase in ticket buying, with regulars and newcomers flooding in for a chance at riches.

"It's more than double," said Tully Food & Liquor owner Hardish Vajwa. "They're coming in buying as many as they can afford."

Customers have come in buying 50, 80, even 100 tickets at a time.

The retailer who sells the winning ticket would pocket $1 million.

Mega Millions is played in dozens of states, including California. Players pick five numbers from 1 to 56, plus a Mega number from 1 to 46. Tickets are $1.

The twice-a-week draw on Tuesdays and Fridays closes at 7:45 p.m. Pacific time.

Six others in California picking in Friday's draw matched five of six numbers correctly, lottery officials said.

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