California Lottery Starts 2022 By Crowning Five Lucky Millionaires

Written By Darren Cooper on January 27, 2022
The California Lottery has made five lucky people millionaires in the first weeks of the new year

For one California Lottery player, it was a lucky penny. For another, it was a Lucky store.

The California Lottery announced that, already in 2022, one player had won a $6 million prize on a Scratchers ticket, four others had won a million, and another player had collected $750,000.

The big winner in Northern California was Balbir Kaur, who won a super $6 million on a Set For Life Scratchers ticket purchased at L & R Gas & Food on Live Oak Boulevard in Live Oak.

A Lucky store, a lucky penny, and the California Lottery

For Kevin Ghee, a pool company owner, a lucky penny was the magic for his million.

Ghee told the California Lottery he was getting some margaritas at the Adobe Beverage and Deli on McDowell Boulevard in Petaluma when his change came back as one single penny.

The clerk teased Ghee that it was a ‘lucky penny.’

Ghee used the penny to scratch off his ticket in his car, but his phone wasn’t charged, so he couldn’t check the Lottery mobile app to confirm his prize.

At first, Ghee thought he’d won $1,000. But on closer examination, he saw a few more zeros at the end, making him California’s newest millionaire.

Once Ghee convinced his family it was real, he and his wife bought a safe to store the ticket before they could redeem it for the full amount.

“The safe sat on my lap for a couple of hours,” Ghee told the California Lottery. “I just sat there and laughed and drank margaritas!”

Ghee plans to buy a home, start a college fund for his kids, and invest his winnings.

Over in Napa, Alexander Martinez won his $1 million prize playing Plus the Money Scratchers. He got the ticket at the perfectly named Lucky Store on Trancas Street. He told California Lottery officials that he would invest his prize.

Three generations benefit from her winnings

When Krista Juetten won her million playing a Red Hot 10s Scratchers ticket, she was incredulous. And then, she focused on her family. Juetten has a daughter in college, and her mother was still working in her 70s.

“As soon as I knew I was a winner, two things went through my mind. First, I could pay for my kids to go to college, and second, my mom could retire,” Juetten told the California Lottery.

“She couldn’t believe it when I offered, but what kind of daughter would I be if I didn’t do that for her?” explained Juetten.

Juetten’s mom has now retired. And also, she hopes to use her winnings to pay for schooling for her daughter and son.

The fourth $1 million winner is Jose Zayala Jr., who picked up the cash after buying a Red Hot 10 Scratchers ticket from the Chevron Extra Mile on North First Street in San Jose.

Florita Alvarez won $750,000 on a Mystery Crossword ticket from Browns Valley Chevron on First Street in Napa.

Each of the stores that sold a winning ticket will receive bonuses from the California Lottery. L & R Gas & Food will get $30,000 (and maybe a new lucky penny) for selling the winning $6 million ticket. The other stores selling receive a $5,000 bonus for selling tickets worth $1 million.

Photo by M Velishchuk/Shutterstock
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Darren Cooper

Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He's won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

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