Oregon Man Forgot Jackpot-Winning Ticket for A Month

Thursday October 22nd 2020

An Oregon Lottery player unknowingly carried around a ticket worth $5.7 million in his wallet for a month after he "simply forgot about it." Luckily, he remembered in time to claim the incredible prize before it expired.

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Portland resident Christopher Sargent and his wife Gabrielle purchased the lucky Oregon's Game Megabucks ticket while shopping at the Plaid Pantry, located at the corner of N. Greeley and Rosa Parks Way in North Portland.

A month later, Sargent, who regularly buys tickets at the store, was there again and suddenly remembered the ticket.

Fortunately, it was still safe and sound (earlier this year, another Portland player who'd kept a Megabucks ticket worth $8.4 million in his wallet nearly saw his money go down the drain after he accidentally put it through the laundry).

"The clerk wasn’t sure what I’d won but he said, 'It looks like you need to go to Salem," Sargent told Lottery officials.

Back at home, Sargent checked the numbers again himself and verified that he had indeed hit the multimillion-dollar jackpot!

Keeping in mind the Lottery's advice to store winning tickets securely, Sargent came up with a unique place to stash it until he could claim the prize. "I put it in a baggie and hid behind an Incredible Hulk action figure," he said. "I figured it would be safe there."

The couple visited Oregon Lottery headquarters in Salem the next day to collect their amazing win. They chose to be paid an annual annuity over 30 years, and will each receive $64,600 a year after taxes.

The Plaid Pantry will be paid a 1 percent bonus of $57,000 for selling the winning ticket. It's some well-deserved good luck for the retailer, which suffered a devastating fire in July 2018.

"What might have been considered by some to be an 'unlucky' store, has now become our 'luckiest' store," Jonathan Polonsky, CEO of Plaid Pantries Inc., said. "Congratulations to the winner from our over 700 Plaid employees." The bonus will be put back into the stores and staff members, Polonsky confirmed.

$1 Million Powerball Ticket Forgotten for Weeks

Coincidentally, another Oregon Lottery player also took weeks to realize she'd become a millionaire after keeping the winning ticket in her handbag.

Shelley Arnold bought the lucky ticket while grocery shopping at the Safeway on Century Way in Bend. She told Lottery officials she'd played Powerball for a long time, but had only won the occasional $4 before.

So Arnold was amazed when she finally learned she'd won the game's $1 million second prize. "I was at Safeway and when I realized I won $1 million, my husband and the clerk couldn’t see how happy I was because I had a mask on!" she told Lottery officials. "I was very happy, in fact, I didn’t believe it."

Just to make sure, after checking the ticket on the self-service scaner, she also asked the clerk to scan the ticket and then checked the numbers a third time when she got home.

"The funny part is that I had that ticket just lying in my purse for weeks,” she said. “I didn’t even realize I had a $1 million ticket sitting in there!"

"We are so thrilled for Shelley," said Jill McGinnis, Safeway director of communications and public affairs. "Our employees work so hard, now more than ever. I can’t think of a better time for her to win. I hope that she feels a great sense of security because of this – and has some fun too!"

The winning ticket was a Quick Pick that matched the five main numbers, only missing the red Powerball. "I always said I would be fine just matching five numbers," she said. "Yes, I would’ve gotten a big jackpot if I had hit the Powerball, but this is great. I have no complaints."

About the Oregon Lottery

Oregon players have scored over $38 billion in wins since Lottery ticket sales began in 1985, and raised upwards of $12 billion for statewide economic development, public schools, veterans' programs, state parks and environmental initiatives.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Lottery has closed its Salem and Wilsonville offices to the public. Prizes up to $600 may be claimed at a retailer, and wins of up to $50,000 can be claimed by mail - The Lottery is processing hundreds of payments per week! For full information on how to claim a prize, check the coronavirus lottery updates page.

To claim by mail, sign the back of the ticket and mail it along with a completed claim form to the following address. The Lottery recommends using registered mail.

Oregon Lottery
PO Box 14515
Salem, OR 97309

Have you won $50,000 or above? You'll need to visit the Salem office to claim in person. Sign the back of your ticket and call 503-540-1000 to schedule a time to collect your prize.

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