Tayeb Soumi’s day started just like any other, except little did he know a trip to the grocery store would completely change his life.
The accountant from Little Ferry, N.J., picked up some groceries at the local Hackensack ShopRite, including some $5 orange juice.
However, when he went home, his wife was unhappy with the juice because she had heard of a better deal at a different store. To satisfy his wife, Soumi went back to the store and returned the more expensive orange juice.
Before leaving the New Jersey Lottery Powerball’s $315 million jackpot caught his eye. Soumi had been playing the lotto for 21 years but never won big. His losing streak was enough for his son to urge him to stop playing. However, Soumi still decided to spend the $5 on two Quick Pick tickets.
Without thinking much of it, he did not check his tickets until the next day, when he stopped at a 7-Eleven convenience store on his way to the car wash, reported CBS New York. He went to the automated machine to scan his lotto tickets. The first ticket was not a winner but the second ticket displayed a message he had never seen before.
“Always I see two dollars, four dollars,” Soumi said at a New Jersey Lotto press conference. “This day I see ‘must be seen by retailer.'”
Thinking the machine might be broken, he asked the clerk to check his ticket. She did, and was left speechless by what she saw.
“Oh my god,” she said. Soumi asked how much he had won.
“It’s big,” she said. “Very big!”
“The clerk kept saying, ‘oh my god, oh my god,’ and my heart went just like a Tom and Jerry cartoon where the heart goes boom, boom, boom,” Soumi said.
Finally, Soumi read the slip and it said “Jackpot.”
Jackpot Winner Was ‘Shaking’
“My heart was just beating, beating, beating,” Soumi said, according to CBS New York. “It took me two hours to fill out the form, because my hand was still shaking.”
His ticket matched all five white balls and the Powerball to win the jackpot worth $183.2 million. He was the sole winner.
He did not end up getting his car washed and, when he made it home, his wife asked what took him so long.
“When I show [my wife] the ticket, she started to cry,” he said. “She went to wake up the kids. Actually, it was [a] very emotional day for me.”
Soumi, who is originally from Africa, came to this country in 1996. After winning the jackpot his first priority is to pay for his 17 and 20-year-old children’s college education. He has just refinanced his home to help cover costs.
Soumi is living the dream and already quit his job as an accountant, all thanks to a cheaper orange juice for sale in a different store.
“I love orange juice now,” he said.
Soumi’s experience is not the only Powerball winner.
New Jersey Lottery Acting Executive Director John M. White visited the retailer location that sold the winning ticket, the Hackensack ShopRite. He presented the store owner, Lawrence Inserra Jr., a $30,000 bonus check for selling the winning ticket, according to a press release.
Inserra said he is not going to keep the money. Instead, he plans to donate proceeds from the bonus check to various charities in the area.