A man who purchased a winning $1-million Powerball ticket kissed his fortune goodbye as the deadline to claim the prize passed Thursday.
Why didn't he claim the prize? He lost the ticket.
But he did win a lot of sympathy.
"He's a winner, and you can't take that away from him," said Los Angeles resident David Greenberg, who was drinking a cup of coffee outside a convenience store downtown Friday morning. "I have great sympathy for him. It's quite a thing to dream about great wealth, and then to lose it."
The Powerball player purchased the "lucky" ticket at Rosemead Supermarket in the 8800 block of East Valley Boulevard back in September as the jackpot grew to $149 million. The ticket matched every number — 37, 6, 1, 53 and 16 — in the Sept. 13 drawing, except the Powerball number — 27 — good enough for second prize. (No ticket had all five numbers plus the Powerball.)
He had 180 days to claim the $1-million prize, and Thursday was the last day. Because Powerball rules require the winner to produce the actual winning ticket, he was ineligible to collect his winnings, California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said.
Lottery officials had tried to identify the man, even distributing surveillance video footage of him buying the winning ticket in hopes of locating him. One man came forward saying he was the winner and that he had seen news reports about himself buying the ticket but had lost it.
In a 7-Eleven store at 5th Street and Broadway, a customer yelped Friday when she heard about the man.
"No!" she yelled, shaking her head.
Behind the cash register, Gabriela Chavez, 23, slammed her fist on the counter, her mouth open in disbelief.
"I would cry," she said. "I would probably punch somebody because I was so mad. I would think about it day and night, in the shower, just thinking about that Powerball ticket."
As he picked at a just-purchased California Lottery Year of the Ram Scratchers ticket on the sidewalk outside the store, Darl Hayward put it simply: "He's screwed."
Hayward, who was visiting from Texas, said that if he were in the same situation he would tear his house and car apart searching for the ticket.
"I feel sorry for the guy," he said. "You watch, after all this is on the news, he's going to find it. It'll be in his wallet or some other place he didn't look."
Hayward said most people don't really think they're going to win when they buy the big-money lottery tickets and aren't careful with them. He noted that it's statistically more likely to be struck by lightning than win the lottery, and in regard to the unlucky winner's situation, "I'd rather get hit by lightning."
He shrugged his shoulders as he finished his Scratchers ticket. It was a loser. He wadded it up and tossed it in the trash, unsurprised.
This week's Powerball disappointment wasn't a total loss. By law, all unclaimed prize money automatically goes to California public schools.
And the Rosemead supermarket where the winning ticket was purchased still collected a $5,493 bonus for the winning ticket.