Returned Orange Juice to Save Money and Picked Up Winning Ticket Instead

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Tuesday June 4, 2019 13:30 pm

The Lottery Lab Staff

Tayeb Souami got lucky just when he needed it the most. The bottle of orange juice cost $5 at ShopRite, but Tayeb Souami’s wife had found the same brand on sale for $2.50 elsewhere. $2.50 might not seem like a big deal but it mattered a lot to a family that had just refinanced its home and had a daughter headed to college.

Therefore, on May 19, 2019, Souami dutifully trudged back to the store in Hackensack, N.J.- OJ and receipt in hand.

When he got to the counter he saw a sign for the Powerball jackpot, which had ballooned to $306 million at that point. He just felt like buying a ticket and seeing what would happen. Therefore, he used the money he saved from the juice to buy two Powerball lottery tickets and forgot about it for the rest of the day.

He got busy with other errands he needed to run the next morning. He went to get his car washed and on the way, he stepped into a 7-Eleven convenience store to check the tickets. “I scanned the first ticket. It wasn’t a winner. And the second ticket it was good, but always I see $2, $4, but that day I see, ‘Must be seen by the retailer.’ I scan it again and it said the same thing again. And I say to the lady, I hand it to the lady and I say ‘Can you check? I think your machine is not working.’”

Souami said the clerk scanned the ticket and said, “Oh, my God!” The clerk was just as shaken as Souami and kept screaming “Oh, my God.”

Souami, a father of two who immigrated from a country in Africa in 1996, had purchased the sole winning ticket. The winning numbers were 3, 6, 9, 17, 56 and the Powerball 25, according to NewJersey.com. His odds of winning were one in 292.2 million. According to him, he is an occasional lottery player, more likely to play when the prize reaches a high amount.

He spent the next three weeks after learning that he was a winner planning the rest of his life. Souami, who worked as an accountant for a food importing company, said he wanted to make sure the 200 people he works with would be okay before he quit.

The father of two decided to take the $183 million cash payout and remain in his New Jersey home town. He’ll pay off his recently refinanced home, pay for his daughter’s college tuition and pay off his own college loans.