Store sells winning ticket

October 07, 2007|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,SUN REPORTER

Hemant Shah marveled yesterday at how close he came to possibly being the latest Mega Millions lottery winner. Instead, the owner of Mace Liquors in Essex said he learned yesterday morning that one of his customers snatched up the lucky single-winning ticket - and its $26 million bounty - exactly four minutes before Shah.

"I'm ecstatic," said Shah, who has owned the store for five years. "I knew deep down that we'd sell one."

Shah, 59, said lottery officials called him about 9:30 a.m. to tell him that the winning ticket had been bought at his store, but he doesn't know which customers has it.

The winning numbers from Friday night's drawing were: 10, 19, 37, 40 and 48. The Mega Ball number was 1.

If the winner opts for a lump-sum payment, he or she could net about $15.2 million, Maryland Lottery Director Buddy Roogow said yesterday afternoon.

He said no one has claimed the jackpot yet. Because tomorrow is Columbus Day and the lottery office is closed for the holiday, Roogow said that even if the winner steps forward this weekend, Tuesday is the earliest the ticket could be officially validated.

"I'm sure if someone called sooner, we'd find a way," he added.

Mace Liquors will receive $25,000, likely within the next couple of weeks, for selling the winning ticket, Roogow said.

Shah said he plans to share the $25,000 with the store's six employees, including his son, Tej Shah, 32.

"We'll also do some remodeling," Hemant Shaw said. "And throw a party."

In the multistate Mega Millions, the top jackpot grows from drawing to drawing until there is a winner, when it resets back to a base-level grand prize. The next Mega Millions drawing, on Tuesday night, will have a grand prize of $12 million.

About a month ago - and also on a holiday weekend - another Marylander, Ellwood August "Bunky" Bartlett of Dundalk, claimed his share of a $330 million Mega Millions jackpot. Bartlett was one of four winners in that Aug. 31 drawing. The other three winning tickets were purchased in New Jersey, Virginia and Texas.

gina.davis@baltsun.com

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