Sometime after Kulwinder Singh lands in India today, he will call his son Parmeet to let him know he arrived safely.
When he does, Parmeet will pick up the phone and say one of two things:
“Dad, what would you do with $1 million?”
“Hey, you’re a millionaire.”
By Thursday afternoon, most of the country is already aware the sole $425.3-million jackpot winning Powerball ticket was sold at the Dixon Landing Chevron in Milpitas, making the store owner the lucky winner of a $1-million prize.
Kulwinder Singh, 54, owns the family-run gas station, but he’s been in transit to India since about noon Wednesday.
“He’s totally clueless right now,” Parmeet said. “I thought I’ll let him get settled, then give him a little surprise. He’ll probably just go to bed thinking I’m full of it.”
While lottery officials and curious locals wait for the winner of the big jackpot to come forward, media has descended on the gas station just off the 880 Freeway north of San Jose.
In a phone interview with The Times, Parmeet, 24, said his family has owned the store since 2009. It is one of seven lottery retailers owned by his family.
Before Wednesday, he said a $10,000 Scratcher was the biggest winner the station had ever sold.
So Wednesday night, when he got a congratulatory text from a friend during dinner, he didn’t believe it, and “completely ignored it.”
“But then I get a call from my uncle, and he says 'Congratulations – we won.' ”
Parmeet ran outside and started "screaming at the top of my lungs … 'Oh my God,' and some words you’d have to bleep out."
He thought there had to be some kind of mistake, and he considered that there’s another Chevron two exits down from his family's. So he got in the car and drove to his station, and when he saw all the news vans, he “freaked out.”
Instead of going inside, he pumped gas, slipped quietly back in his car and headed home.
“I’ll just come back in the morning and they’ll be gone,” he thought.
But he couldn’t sleep, and when he woke up Thursday morning, he ventured back to the gas station. The media, of course, was still there.
He had forgotten to eat breakfast, so he slipped into a nearby Starbucks, and then prepared himself to enter.
Inside the store, dozens of reporters and photographers crowded the aisles of snack foods as Parmeet discussed his surprise, the Associated Press reported. Customers bantered about the prospect that one of them could have been the winner, the AP said.
Along the right side of the convenience store, a Lotto section with a ticket scanner sits next to a cash register, Parmeet said. The station draws lots of commuters from the Central Valley, and lots of “regulars,” he said. Usually they walk in and scan their tickets, then an attendant can pay them out.
“I’ll be looking for the gun who [scans his ticket and] freezes, then slowly walks toward the door,” Parmeet said.
He said his parents are “pretty humble people” who “like to stay out of the limelight” and they probably will reinvest the money. Thursday, he said it was difficult to describe exactly how it feels to become an instant millionaire.
“It’s out of this world,” he said. “You feel like you’re floating, like everything is a dream.”
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