A New Jersey man is searching for the person who unknowingly changed his life and allowed him to win the Mega Millions jackpot.
Mike Weirsky accidentally left his lottery tickets in a convenience store shortly after he purchased them last week. But because of a stranger’s good deed, Weirsky, who was recently-divorced and unemployed, is now the proud winner of the $273 million jackpot.
The ordeal unfolded last Thursday when Weirsky made a stop at a Phillipsburg QuickChek and purchased the Mega Millions lottery ticket, the Associated Press reportedthis link opens in a new tab.
Distracted by his phone, Weirsky, 54, left the tickets behind and headed on his way. It wasn’t until he had returned home that Weirsky noticed the tickets were missing.
“I looked for three hours at home and didn’t even realize going back down Thursday,” he shared during a press conference, “but when I woke up Friday, I was like, ‘Welp, just another thing I lost.’”
Though Weirsky felt hopeless, he returned to the store on March 1 to see if someone had found his missing tickets — and to his surprise, someone did.
After the store properly verified that the tickets were his, Weirsky claimed them back. “I was very surprised… when they were there, I was just very happy. I couldn’t believe it,” the longtime lottery player said.
He didn’t realize he had won the jackpot, however, until two days later when he noticed his numbers matched the winning ones, prompting him to return to the store once again.
It was certainly a close call, as lottery officials explained on Thursday that the person who found the tickets could have held onto them, signed them and claimed the jackpot for themselves.
“I’m looking for the guy that handed them in, I want to thank him,” Weirsky said, according to AP. “I’m going to give him something, but I’m going to keep that private.”
With his winnings, Weirsky plans on buying a new pickup truck, a new car for his mother and plans to remodel her home. It also comes at an exceptional time, as Weirsky was personally struggling without a job and with a divorce.
“It’s gonna change everything because I was unemployed,” he shared. “I recently got divorced in October and I followed her around for 15 years and she worked and I didn’t.”
“I’ve been looking for just about a year for a job that I felt was worth it,” he explained, adding that he hadn’t had a single interview in 18 months. That is until this past Wednesday when he was already a Mega Millions winner.
Now, as he continues to search for the kind stranger, Weirsky is riding the high from his excitement and looking back on how quickly his life has changed.
“I was down and now all of a sudden, I’m way up,”he said. “I don’t know how much higher I can get!”