Local News

Sunday, Apr 01 2012 07:16 PM

Identities of three local lottery winners remain unknown

BY CHRISTINE BEDELL Californian government editor cbedell@bakersfield.com

There was a third local lottery winner?

That was the familiar refrain Sunday as news spread that someone won $17 million Saturday night with a California Lottery ticket purchased at Ming Avenue Shell near Valley Plaza in Bakersfield.

That's in addition to the lucky folks who bought two Mega Millions tickets in Bakersfield with almost all of the right numbers, nabbing some $228,000 each. That's the multi-state lottery that had the whole nation abuzz last week because the jackpot reached a record $640 million.

As of Sunday evening, it's still not known who bought the three winning tickets in Bakersfield.

"I'm anxious to know who it is," Stephanie Som, a cashier at Ming Avenue Shell, said of the person who purchased the $17 million ticket from the store she's worked at for about a year and a half.

Som said the store's owner, whom she declined to identify, was speechless when Som told her the news.

"I don't know if she thought I was lying," Som joked. "This is the first time (one of her customers) won a jackpot."

The store will receive one half percent of the prize, or $85,000, for selling the winning ticket, according to California Lottery officials.

State lottery spokesman Russ Lopez said he was "ecstatic" for the winner, though he didn't yet know who that was.

Sometimes lottery officials don't hear from winners for weeks, Lopez said. Winners have 180 days from the date of the draw to claim their prize.

"People want to take a breath, take a step back and think, 'What in the heck am I going to do?'" Lopez said.

"We will be there to help them."

Saturday's winning numbers were 2, 12, 15, 25, 47 and Mega 13. The estimated cash option amount is $11.7 million.

The identities of the local Mega Millions winners remained a mystery, too. They had bought tickets in Bakersfield with all of the winning numbers except the Mega number. (It wasn't even known who bought the three tickets with all the right numbers, except that they did their purchasing in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland).

Alex Traverso, another California Lottery spokesman, said the two people in Bakersfield who won the $228,000 each hadn't come forward by Sunday afternoon, which isn't surprising since the lottery office is closed over the weekend.

He said oftentimes the winners first go to the store where they purchased the ticket to get a claim form. But employees at those Bakersfield stores -- EZ Foodmart on Taft Highway near Highway 99 and Stockdale West Chevron in the 13000 block of Stockdale Highway -- still didn't know the names Sunday.

They were, however, accepting lots of congratulations from customers.

Bakersfield's winning streak was not lost on Amanda Cardenas, a shopper at Ming Avenue Shell (where the $17 million winning ticket was sold) Sunday.

"It makes me want to play even more," Cardenas said.

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