Calif. man who spent $60K on lottery tickets wins $6 million jackpot

Dedicated player finally gets a return on his investment after 30 years

By Kate Northrop

AUBURN, Calif. — A California resident’s persistence has finally paid off, and it only took 30 years of commitment and dedication. The devoted player’s tenacity landed him a $6 million jackpot after he had collectively spent around $60,000 on lottery tickets.

Like any fan of the lottery, Jerry Murray of Newcastle has always dreamed of winning a huge prize. After spending about $60,000 on lottery tickets in the past 30 years, he didn’t have to dream about a big win any longer.

“I play lottery so every Tuesday and Wednesday night I can go to sleep dreaming of winning, you know?” Murray said.

He beat the 1 in 3.02 million odds to score a $6 million jackpot prize from a lucky $10 “Set For Life” scratch-off ticket he bought at the Cigarettes For Less smoke shop on Elm Avenue in Auburn. He immediately texted his wife a photo of the winning ticket and told her to be discrete about the news, but his wife couldn’t contain her sheer excitement.

“Got home, scratched three losers, and then got the Set For Life ticket,” Murray recounted. “I don’t get overly excited, so I called my wife. I said, ‘hey, let’s keep this quiet.’ She was in the office with nine women, and, of course, started screaming.”

Her joy was warranted — they were both concerned about having to downsize from their cherished home to retire. Seeing as how Murray’s investment paid off, they no longer have to worry about moving out of their much-loved home.

“In the last 20 plus years, we’ve turned our home into the place we would like to stay, so this just makes it a little easier,” Murray said.

Spending $30-40 on lottery tickets each week for the last 30 years was quite the investment, but the payout was well worth it for Murray, who will invest some of the money for his children and grandchildren. He has already spent some of it on home improvements, and his wife bought herself a brand-new Tesla Model X car.

“This is the funnest part — being able to help people,” Murray said. “I have four kids, a grandkid… that’s the fun part.”

The owner of the Cigarettes For Less tobacco store, Rocky Salhotra, was thrilled that one of his regular customers won big.

“Every customer who comes, they went, ‘I’m so happy someone won it locally,'” Salhotra said. “Especially what we’re going through these days, I think that’s the best thing for the guy.”

Salhotra will get a $30,000 commission for selling the winning lottery ticket.

Murray won the $6 million jackpot back in July, so initially he was unable to claim his prize since Lottery offices were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He put the lucky ticket in a safe deposit box for a few days to give himself time to learn more about the claims process in such circumstances.

“I eventually drove down to the headquarters in Sacramento,” Murray explained in a press release. “There was a super nice lady in the parking lot who worked for the lottery. I ended up asking her, and she said I was able to go to the drop box at the Sacramento District office in Natomas.”

Opting for the lump sum prize of $3.4 million, Murray ended up receiving a check for $2.5 million after federal taxes were withheld. (California does not withhold state taxes on lottery prizes.)

“A ginormous check coming to you in mail felt odd to me,” Murray admitted. “It was relieving to know I could retire in California.

It’s safe to say that the dedicated player won’t stop playing the lottery anytime soon — after he won the jackpot, he was already back to buying some more scratch-offs. For Jerry, it’s his preferred form of entertainment.

“After 30 plus years playing, I’m probably even,” Murray joked.

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