SACRAMENTO -- The winner of a $52 million MEGA Millions jackpot ticket purchased in Fremont more than a month ago finally claimed his prize Friday, and he told reporters that without nudging from his relatives, he may never have found out about his good fortune.
Bladimir Agnite, of Fremont, purchased the winning ticket at Kwik Stop at 3157 Walnut Ave. on July 27 but never claimed the prize despite having the winning ticket scanned more than one time. He was introduced at a news conference in Sacramento on Friday his with wife, Marita, a day after California Lottery officials released a snapshot image of a surveillance video taken from the Kwik Stop that night. They were looking for the mystery winner who never stepped up to claim the stunning jackpot.
"I scanned it multiple times," Agnite said at the news conference, but all the message on the electronic ticket reader said was, "See the clerk."
"We didn't see the amount," he said. "Just, 'See the clerk.' We didn't know."
California Lottery spokeswoman Donna Cordova said lottery winners can have their winning tickets scanned at stores that sell tickets but that to claim a prize, they must contact lottery officials. When nobody claimed the winning ticket from the Kwik Stop, lottery officials asked for the public's help and released the security camera footage.
When Agnite's in-laws saw the photo and recognized him, they urged him to check the California Lottery website to see the image for himself. When he saw the image, he immediately told his wife they were a wanted couple.
"My stomach started ... I started crying," Marita Agnite said. "He hugged me and we just cried and cried."
The Agnites said they will use the winnings to buy a home and to help with expenses -- and the reward couldn't have come at a better time: Bladimir was laid off recently from his job at a printing company, officials said.
"We've been living with friends," Bladimir Agnite said. "Now we're renting an apartment."
The Agnites also will use the money to pay for college for their children. And Marita Agnites, a nursing assistant, insisted she will continue to work.
"You can't just quit the job," she said. "You never know what's going to happen."
The drawing took place July 27. The winning numbers were 2, 3, 4, 8 and 43, with the Mega number being 26. In another twist on the story, one player who thought she had purchased the winning ticket came forward to claim the prize after the drawing, but a lottery investigation determined she was not the winner.
MEGA Millions jackpot winning tickets can be claimed for up to one full year from the date they were purchased, Cordova said. All other winning tickets must be claimed within six months.
Staff writer Natalie Neysa Alund contributed to this report. Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4780 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH. Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.