Today’s $540 million lottery jackpot is being called the largest prize “in the history of the world,” and the milestone isn’t lost on fortune-seeking San Franciscans.
At 19th Avenue Liquors in the Sunset district — identified by the California Lottery as one of The City’s lucky vendors due to having sold winning tickets in 1987 and 1996 — there has been a tenfold boost in sales of Mega Millions tickets. Owner Elias “Big Lou” Shamieh said the line could be out the door and around the corner by the end of the workday today.
“Friday is a lucky day, and there are a lot of Asians in this neighborhood and they believe eight is a lucky number, so they buy tickets in increments of eight,” Shamieh said.
As of Thursday, Shamieh said he had sold $11,000 in lottery tickets this week, whereas he normally sells just about $1,000. His front window coaxes people inside with a sign that says they could become the shop’s third big winner.
For the extra-superstitious player, the Bay Area’s single-luckiest vendor is Kavanagh Liquors in San Lorenzo, where four multimillion-dollar winning tickets were sold between 1989 and 2003.
A dozen pizzeria workers from Corte Madera bought a combined $1,200 in tickets at a Mill Valley liquor store and nearly won the $363 million jackpot on Tuesday. They matched five of the six numbers, only missing the final Mega Millions digit, and they won $308,573, about $25,000 each.
Luciano Arruda, 32, an employee at Stefano’s Pizza, said he’ll likely be paying some bills with his winnings, although he plans to get the same people together again to buy perhaps even more tickets for today’s drawing.
Odds of hitting the jackpot in the multistate game are currently set at 1 in
176 million, but Arruda is hoping lightning will strike twice.
“Every ticket counts,” he said.
Edgar Guinones was zipping around town Thursday buying about 30 tickets from various vendors, including 19th Avenue Liquors. The 68-year-old retired U.S. Postal Service worker said he’ll share the wealth if he wins.
“I will help out a lot of people, first my family, then a lot of others,” Guinones said. “It’s just too much money.”
Tickets for the lottery will be sold until 7:45 tonight and the drawing is scheduled for 8 p.m.
San Francisco’s luckiest shops
19th Avenue Liquors Sunset district,
19th Avenue and
- $1 million winning ticket in 1987
- $17 million winning ticket in 1996
755 Portola Drive
- $15 million winning ticket in 1990
- $22 million winning ticket in 1997
Sugar Bowl Bakery Richmond district,
3640 Balboa Ave.
(no longer sells tickets)
- $3.6 million winning ticket in 1989
- $49 million winning ticket in 1996
Source: California Lottery