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Shop Shares in Mega Fortune

Winners of $315-million lottery keep private. But ticket sellers celebrate their million publicly.

November 17, 2005|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

Six lab technicians and a receptionist at a Garden Grove medical center will share $315 million in lottery winnings after each of them chipped in $3 to buy a handful of Mega Millions tickets -- one of them the winner Tuesday in the multistate lottery.

It is the second-largest lottery purse offered in California and one of the biggest in the United States. And, yes, all seven winners did show up for work Wednesday. No word, though, on how long that will continue.

Meanwhile, the owners of the mom-and-pop store in Anaheim where the ticket was sold -- an immigrant couple from Mexico -- will collect $1 million for selling the winning ticket with the numbers 2, 4, 5, 40, 48 and 7.

"Someone please wake me up, because I think I'm still dreaming," said Jose Cordova, 29, whose parents own Rainbow Water & Flowers & Gifts.

The store, in a shopping strip on Katella Avenue at Euclid Street, on Wednesday was adorned with balloons and a large banner noting that the winning ticket had been sold there.

The actual winners, however, kept a lower profile. They showed up for work and ordered pizzas for all 78 of their co-workers at their Kaiser Permanente medical offices. But they made no public appearance.

"They're all working. Nobody quit today," said Barbara Shipnuck, spokeswoman for Kaiser Permanente. "They all seem wonderfully genuine and very supportive."

The seven employees will receive a total sum of either $180 million before taxes if they chose an immediate payout or get roughly $12 million a year before taxes for 26 years.

"We all are very excited with this winning and made no future plans at this time," the winners wrote in a brief statement.

They asked to remain anonymous.

It was not known when they would claim their prize. Lottery officials said they had 180 days to do so.

"It's not uncommon for someone to delay coming in on a large jackpot of this size," said Rosa Escutia, spokeswoman for the California Lottery. "They want to consult with family, consult with legal advice or consult with financial advice."

For the Cordovas, the day began early Wednesday when a relative called after hearing the news on television.

"We just can't believe it," said Jose Cordova, the oldest of three children.

Cordova said his parents had worked long and hard since coming to the United States from Mexico in the 1970s and that this seemed like a reward for their labors.

His father, Carmen, works as a pressman; his mother, Guadalupe, runs the shop, which sells flowers, gifts, makeup, music, sandwiches and juices.

"She deserves it, because she works long, long hours," Jose Cordova said. "She can now enjoy it."

His parents will spend part of their money on a trip to Las Vegas, where his mother likes to play slot machines, he said.

"She was always optimistic that she'd win the lottery one day," he said. The entrance to her store is lined with winning lottery tickets taped to a wall: $15, $123, $510.

His sister, Raquel Cordova, 20, thinks she sold the winning ticket and has a hunch who the customer is.

"I hope this man won because he told me he'd buy me a Mercedes," she said, laughing.

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