Paul Geston of Fresno is one of those guys who just seems to have all the luck these days.
Geston, 71, is a regular customer for California Lottery Scratcher tickets at his neighborhood Get ’n’ Go convenience store at the corner of Tulare and Peach avenues in southeast Fresno. Three years ago, he hit a $5 ticket for a $100,000 jackpot.
This month, he scored an even bigger prize – $1 million on a $10 “Million Dollar Multiplier” scratch-off ticket.
Geston told The Bee on Monday that he bought the ticket on Jan. 2 after already having won two $1,000 prizes that same day. He said he took some of those winnings with him to the store to buy some cigarettes and decided to buy another $20 worth of tickets.
“The second ticket I scratched was for $1 million,” Geston said. “I took a double look at it, and that’s when I asked the clerk to come around and look at it, to verify that I was seeing things right.”
I’ve already had two marriage proposals and four encounters, and I don’t want none of it.
Lottery winner Paul Geston
“I didn’t have my inhaler on me, so I sort of like started gasping for air,” Geston told lottery officials. Since Jan. 2 was a legal holiday, he took his winning ticket to the California Lottery’s Fresno district office the next day to claim his prize.
And although lottery officials took a photo of him with an oversized replica check, Geston doesn’t yet have his winnings. Representatives with the California Lottery said it is currently taking them 10 to 12 weeks to process prize claims.
Once he has his money in hand, Geston said, his plan is to keep his old pickup but buy a new car, remodel his mobile home, and set aside money for a handicapped son “to make sure his future is taken care of.”
“I’m still myself; money doesn’t change who I am,” Geston added. “I was more excited three years ago when I won the $100,000 than I was when I hit this one for $1 million. Maybe it’s my age. If I was younger, I’d be thrilled about this.”
Geston said he worked as a drywall finisher in the construction industry for 41 years until illness forced him to retire in 2001. “It’s nice to know I won’t have to worry about anything.”
He’s been in and out to buy more tickets, (but) a lot of people told him he didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
Andy Chhikara, who owns the store where the $1 million ticket was sold
Andy Chhikara, who owns the Get ’n’ Go store, said Geston is a regular customer who has been buying lottery tickets there for years. “And he’s still playing,” Chhikara said. “He’s been in and out to buy more tickets, (but) a lot of people told him he didn’t have to worry about it anymore.”
The Get ’n’ Go is one of a couple of places where Geston stops in for cigarettes and lottery tickets.
“If one place doesn’t have my brand of cigarettes, I’ll go down to Andy’s and get a pack of cigarettes and play $10 to $20 worth of lottery tickets while I’m there,” Geston said. “I think the most I’ve ever won down at Andy’s is $100. … If I didn’t buy any cigarettes, I probably wouldn’t even buy lottery tickets.”
Chhikara said that during a visit by Geston a day or two after scratching the winning ticket, another customer asked Geston if he needed anything. Geston joked that he might look for a wife – and the woman offered to set him up with her mother.
But the would-be matchmaking is hardly welcomed. “I’ve already had two marriage proposals and four encounters, and I don’t want none of it,” Geston said.
The store will get $5,000 as a bonus for selling the winning million-dollar ticket. It’s the biggest lottery prize won by any of Chhikara’s customers in the 20 or so years that he has owned the store.
“Whenever there’s a big (PowerBall or MegaMillions) jackpot, we’ll have someone who’s one number short or something, but we’ve never had a million-dollar winner,” Chhikara said.
Chhikara added that his store sold about $350,000 worth of winning lottery tickets last year in both Scratchers and number-draw games such as SuperLotto Plus, MegaMillions or PowerBall.