Lottery Win Turns Lemons into Lemonade for Oregon Woman

Tuesday April 21st 2020

Maria Salas Laris of Medford, Oregon was bored of being confined to her house during the state's stay-at-home order - but her day got a lot brighter when she picked up a Scratch-it ticket worth $50,000.

“We normally play Video Lottery, and when we went to the market we saw the Scratch-its and decided to play,” she said.

She decided to try the Lucky Lemons game - and trying something new turned out to be a great idea. “The first ticket we played was the winner. I was in shock – I am still in shock.”

Her $5.00 Lucky Lemons Scratch-it had turned out to be a $50,000 winner, giving Salas Laris the down payment on a property she is looking to buy. “I haven’t been able to sleep, I’m so excited,” she said. “I have a down payment now, it’s great.”

Salas Laris purchased her winning ticket at the Minute Market at 1217 West Stewart Avenue in Medford. After mailing in her claim, she visited Oregon Lottery headquarters in Salem to receive her check.

Although the lottery's Salem and Wilsonville offices are closed to the public, players who win large prizes are still able to claim in person with an appointment.

“Basically what we’re doing right now is if players win $50,000 or more we ask that they call and then we schedule an appointment,” lottery spokesman Patrick Johnson said.

The lottery has put social distancing measures in place so prizes can be redeemed safely when winners visit. Salas Laris was able to have her picture taken with her "big check" as a staff member jokingly handed it to her with a grabber tool to maintain the required amount of space.

It's just one of the changes the lottery has made to help employees and winners stay safe. Before coronavirus, winners would wait in a special "winner's room" while their check was printed.

“I’d always take them in this little room that kind of looks like a Starbucks, and we’d do an interview and we’d wait for the check to come out,” Johnson said. “Well, obviously we’re not doing that anymore.”

Instead, winners who have made an appointment now wait in the lobby until staff give them their check from behind a slotted plexiglass panel.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep our players safe,” Johnson said. “So far, people have enjoyed the pictures; they think they’re funny.”

It took just two days from the time Salas Laris filled out her Winner Claim Form to receiving her check. “We can turn it around pretty quick,” Johnson said.

Other Oregon Lottery Social Distancing Wins

Salas Laris is the biggest winner so far in April, and only the second to collect their check in person since the lottery closed its offices to the public on March 23 following Gov. Kate Brown's stay-at-home order.

The lottery had earlier opened its doors for Bob McCauley of Mount Vernon in Grant County, who arrived in the last week of March to claim a $6.3 million Megabucks jackpot win. Amazingly, he won the prize on a free ticket!

Winners of under $50,000 can also maintain social distancing by mailing in their prize claims.

Jason Hagey, an electricial from Cove in Eastern Oregon, found out he won $6,215 when he checked his Oregon's Game Megabucks ticket using the lottery's mobile app. “I scan the ticket and all these balloons start showing up on the screen,” said Hagey, who checked his ticket while he and a coworker had stopped for a break.

“I thought I had won a free ticket, but I won $6,200! I scanned it at the Minute Mart where we got coffee, and sure enough, I won. I’m ahead!”

Hagey decided to claim his prize by mail. “It was the first time I had won that much, and the first time I mailed it in. I was impressed with the turnaround time and how fast I got the winnings,” he said. With the current economic uncertainty, he said he will save his prize money for the time being.

Another winner, Ron Williams, of Hermiston, said he might keep claiming by mail even after lottery offices reopen. “When I mailed my $22,000 Lucky Lines winner, I registered it and put insurance on it,” he said. “I may continue doing that after this, it saved me a four-and-a-half-hour trip one way in my truck.”

Williams, who described himself as a “faithful” player, said he'll be hanging on to his prize too - not that he's done winning yet. “I have won a big prize on Keno, and now Lucky Lines,” he said. “Good things happen in threes, so I am going to try for Powerball next.”

How to Claim Prizes During the Stay-at-Home Order

Winners may claim prizes under $50,000 by mail and the lottery will send their winnings as a check.

To claim by mail:

  • Sign the back of your ticket and complete the required information
  • Fill out a Winner Claim Form
  • Make a copy of the front and back of the ticket and form for your records
  • Send the originals to the lottery's Salem headquarters, using certified or registered mail to track your envelope:
    Oregon Lottery
    PO Box 14515
    Salem OR 97309

If you've won $50,000 or above, call the lottery at 503-540-1000 to discuss how to claim.

For more information about changes the Oregon Lottery and other lotteries nationwide are making to help combat COVID-19, visit the Coronavirus Lottery Updates page.

If you live in Oregon, you can also play online without leaving home. Bonus: any prizes will be automatically paid into your account with no need to make a claim.

About the Oregon Lottery

Since the Oregon Lottery started selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has contributed over $12 billion towards economic development, public education, Outdoor School, state parks, Veterans services and watershed enhancements in the state.

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