The owners of a convenience store returned a $1 million winning lottery ticket to a customer who had thought it was a losing ticket and asked for it to be thrown away.

Lea Rose Fiega, claimed a $1 million prize from the Massachusetts State Lottery, but she nearly missed out on the jackpot when she confused her scratch-off ticket for a losing one and asked for it to be tossed.

Abhi Shah, whose family owns the Lucky Stop store, said Fiega scratched the ticket off while still inside the store and handed it back to Shah's mother, asking her to throw it away.

“I was in a hurry, on lunch break, and just scratched it real quick, and looked at it, and it didn’t look like a winner, so I handed it over to them to throw away,” she said

The ticket was placed on a stack of other tickets behind the counter, where it sat for 10 days before Shah decided to scan the pile of "losing tickets".

“One evening, I was going through the tickets from the trash and found out that she didn’t scratch the number,” Abhi Shah, the son of the store’s owners told WWLP-TV. “I scratched the number and it was $1 million underneath the ticket.”

Shah and his family agreed the ticket should be returned to Fiega, who is a regular customer and well-known to the family.

"As soon as she came in, I hand her $1 million ticket and she freaked out and cried like a baby," Shah's father, Maunish, told WWLP-TV. "She sat down on the floor right here."

Fiega said that she overcame a near-fatal bout with COVID-19 in January and that in itself was like “winning the lottery,” so she feels doubly fortunate.

The store gets a $10,000 bonus from the state lottery commission for selling the winning ticket. Fiega said she gave the family an additional reward. She’s saving the rest for retirement.


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