$37 Million Lottery Winner Raises Hand

By Lori Preuitt
|  Tuesday, Apr 6, 2010  |  Updated 12:30 PM PDT
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Call it habit or dedication, but whatever way you slice it, one woman's quest to buy a lottery ticket each week made her an instant millionaire.

Retired hospital worker Mitsuko Higashi wasn't feeling well last Wednesday, but she didn't let that stop her from getting her weekly lottery ticket from her local Salinas market.

The 77-year-old retired hospital worker sent her daughter instead.

Good thing she did, because her numbers hit.

Today Higashi is a $37 million winner.  That's $21.2 million cash value before taxes.

When the Salinas resident checked her numbers in the newspaper Monday morning and saw that she had won, she said it was like being doused with a bucket of ice water.

Higashi has played the lottery for the past 25 years and is a  regular customer at Las Lomas Market on San Juan Grade Road.

Higashi said she will use the money to help support her family.

The owner of Las Lomas Market will receive $185,000 for  selling the ticket, the largest jackpot ever sold in Salinas.

By the way, lottery officials are still looking for a lucky winner who bought a winning ticket in San Jose worth $20 million.

The ticket was purchased in February at a 7-Eleven on Bascom north of Hamilton. Those winning numbers are 19, 29, 36, 37, 41, and the Mega number is 20.

Winners have 180 days from the date of the draw to claim prizes. That San Jose clock is already two months in with a deadline of September.

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