SAN JOSE — The owner of an eclectic, unassuming strip mall gift shop in Silicon Valley earned $1 million for selling one of two winning tickets in the near-record $636 million Mega Millions drawing on Tuesday.
“When people hear jackpot winner was sold here, everybody want to come here,” Thuy Nguyen, the owner of Jenny’s Gift and Kids Wear, said Wednesday. “They call my shop lucky Buddha.”
Nguyen’s shop in East San Jose is located in the Lion Plaza shopping center, home to dozens of mostly Vietnamese restaurants, bakeries, banks, hair salons and acupuncturists.
Like Nguyen, most of his customers are immigrants from Vietnam or other Asian countries.
The former hairstylist who emigrated from Vietnam in the early 1990s said he expects a boost in business – not that he needs it – after selling a winning ticket for the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history.
On Wednesday, the parking lot outside his store was crowded with more than a dozen television news vans. Inside, Nguyen rang up lottery ticket sales by a steady stream of customers. Many congratulated him.
“I’m excited, happy,” he said.
The person who bought the winning ticket from Nguyen had not yet come forward.
The winner has up to a year to claim the prize and would get $324 million if they take payments over 30 years, or $174 million before taxes if they take it all at once, said Mona Sanders, a sales manager with the California State Lottery.
Another winning ticket was sold at a newsstand in Atlanta.
Nguyen, who is married and has three children, said he doesn’t know who has the winning ticket from the store that he took over four months ago and that sells Buddha statues, Vietnamese DVDs, clocks and flip flops, among other things.
The winner is likely someone he knows; most of his customers are his friends.