SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — There is always a buzz inside Safeway’s Marina District store, but on Wednesday it was just a few notches higher than normal.
A rather excited and boisterous crowd of employees was gathered in the customer service area led by store manager Lea Maxwell. The group had just learned that a ticket matching 5 of 6 numbers in the $667 million Mega Millions had been sold at the store.
But it got even better. A 20-something employee in the bakery department had bought the ticket worth $1.9 million.
“We didn’t know at first so he was working maybe a good couple hours before someone told him to check his ticket,” Maxwell told reporters. “We were walking around, trying to find out if someone hadn’t shown up for work today. We were hoping it was one of our employees.”
When she did find out, Maxwell was overjoyed.
“I think I ran from the meat department all the way to the front lobby,” she said. “I believe I was screaming for joy. All of my employees started congregating around the customer service center to congratulate him.”
And how did the young employee respond?
“I think he was extremely nervous,” she said. “He didn’t know what to do, so we kind of gave him a little direction and some assistance to work his way over to claim his prize.”
Without releasing his name, Maxwell said he had worked at the store for two years.
She said lottery fever had swept through the store on Tuesday.
“Quite a few of us bought tickets yesterday,” Maxwell said. “I believe the employees also had an office pool.”
Maxwell said she talked with the young employee before sending him on his way.
“I told him congratulations, to take care of his family and good luck. I hope to see you again. Come and visit,” she said.
After leaving the Safeway store, the winner headed to the district Lotto office in South San Francisco, where California Lottery officials were also being tight lipped about the winner for now.
But they weren’t surprised by the excitement following a local win, even if buying tickets at the same location won’t have any affect on a player’s chances of winning.
“Actually, The odds of winning ours the same no matter where you purchased it. It’s how you feel about it,” a California Lottery official told KPIX 5.
According to Mega Millions, it was the third-highest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. The winning numbers were 3, 45, 49, 61 and 69 with 9 as the Mega Ball number.
News of a winning ticket bought at Safeway just one number short of the Mega Millions grand prize certainly had folks hopeful their Lottery rituals will finally pay off.
Alton Watkin, an Uber driver from San Jose, was buying his ticket in San Francisco Wednesday
“I buy the same numbers every time, but I always get a quick pick. You gotta have a chaser,” said Watkin.
Like many folks lining up to buy tickets in the Marina, he is hoping to finish where the bakery clerk left off by matching all six numbers for what has now soared to a record $900 million Mega Millions jackpot
“He got the small change. He left the big one for me,” said Watkin.