Lottery winner Bill Deluca learned he was an instant multimillionaire on Valentine’s Day in Fresno County after buying his wife flowers.
Flowers in hand, he walked next door to buy more lottery tickets, then scanned his old ticket, purchased for $1 at Ice Bucket Chevron in Coalinga.
“I knew I won something, either $3,000, $300,000 or $3 million,” Deluca said in a news release distributed by the California Lottery on Friday.
He went straight home and had his wife check the numbers on the lottery’s website.
“That’s when he heard the screaming and knew his Mega Millions ticket was the one worth $3,471,009,” lottery officials said.
Lottery officials said Deluca currently plans to continue working at his construction maintenance job and that he will use the prize as a pension.
In Friday’s news release, Deluca said he plans to keep playing the lottery in hopes to “pad that pension” even more.
Lottery spokeswoman Cathy Doyle Johnston said Deluca wasn’t available for interviews Friday because he was at work. She said he works in the central San Joaquin Valley, but didn’t provide his age or residence. Johnston said Deluca turned in his winning ticket to a lottery district office on Tuesday, but that his win wasn’t announced until Friday.
His Mega Millions ticket purchased at Ice Bucket Chevron, located at 307 W. Elm St., matched five of six numbers drawn Feb. 13. Deluca’s ticket matched the winning numbers of 4-74-44-20-65, missing only the Mega number 14.
The store owners who sold the winning ticket received a check on Valentine’s Day for $17,000: half of 1% of the winning amount. The amount is not pulled from the winner’s prize, so the owners didn’t have to wait for Deluca to step forward.
The Coalinga gas station, deli and car wash opened 18 years ago and is owned by Gerard and Gail Filipe, and Larry and Andrea Filipe.
Gerard Filipe said it was the third time the Ice Bucket partnership sold a lottery ticket worth millions. A Coalinga liquor store he previously owned sold two big winners, each worth around $4 million, within a year in the late ’80s.
“I feel blessed,” Gerard Filipe said last week. “We’ve had some luck.”
The service station owners plan to use their $17,000 to maintain their business and give their employees a bonus.