A Maryland man who unknowingly struck gold with a scratch-off also hit the jackpot with his choice of friends, as the lotto player’s pal alerted him to the big win after he had discarded the ticket.
The 67-year-old Baltimore County man routinely travels up and down Belair Road to purchase instant tickets for games that still have unclaimed top prizes, he told the Maryland lottery.
Most recently he bought a "Gold" scratch-off ticket at Nikki’s Discount Liquors in Baltimore, but thought he hadn’t won anything, he said.
The heavy equipment mechanic handed off what he thought was a dud to his co-worker and friend, who routinely enters non-winning tickets into My Lottery Rewards to try his luck in second-hand drawings.
But when he tried entering in the "Gold" ticket, he realized the $5 game carried a $50,000 top prize.
"He told me he had to verify the ticket twice to make sure it was real," the lucky winner said. "The next day when he gave me the ticket, he said, 'You’re lucky I like you!'"
The winner, a father and grandfather of two, was beyond grateful for his friend’s honesty, he said.
"I gave him the biggest hug and almost cried," he said. "I really don’t know how I missed that it was a winner."
The winner plans to use the prize money to pay off a truck loan and make improvements to his home.
Nikki’s Discount Liquors, which sold the winning ticket, also earned a $5,000 bonus.