John Lewis ran into a local market to buy mushrooms and walked out with a heck of a lot more.
On a whim, the New York man bought a $10 Set for Life scratch-off lottery ticket. And he won $5 million.
“I never put money in those things,” he said of the machine inside Tops Friendly Market in Saranac Lake. “What possessed me to be in that store, at that time, with just enough money in my hand for that machine, I will never know,” Lewis said at a recent press conference from the store’s potato chip aisle.
“I’m just glad it was me.”
The 56-year-old opted to receive an annual payment of $172,068 for the rest of his life.
It all started as Lewis was making his father’s two-day pasta sauce and realized he was missing one key ingredient.
Inside the store, after scratching the lottery ticket, Lewis couldn’t believe he’d won.
“I just kept staring at it,” he said. “It wasn’t real.”
Then he called home to tell his girlfriend, Mary, who accused him of pulling her leg.
He then called his employer in Lake Placid and said he was quitting his bartender job.
He plans to help a family member with medical bills, he said. He might buy a truck and a piece of property, he said.
But he doesn’t think his new windfall will change his daily life.
“We’re very low-keyed,” he said, standing next to his girlfriend.