The All Points Bulletin searching for the $52 million MEGA Millions lotto winner worked.
Lottery officials said Friday afternoon that after the agency's media blast on Thursday trying to find the mysterious ticket holder, that a true winner has come forward. Lottery officials in Sacramento held a news conference later in the day to announce more details.
According to Lottery officials, Marita and Bladimir Agnite of Fremont said they didn’t know that they had hit the jackpot until a relative called Bladimir to tell him that they thought they had seen his picture on the news. Bladmir had recently been laid off at his printing company, and Marita works as a nursing assistant.
"I scanned it multiple times. See the clear. We didn't see the amount...We didn't know," said Bladimir in a statement, explaining why they had waited more than a month forward.
Bladimir heeded the advice from his in-laws to go on the Lottery's website to see the photo image for himself. Once he saw himself on the screen, he immediately got his wife out of bed to share the news, Lottery officials said.
"He said, 'We're wanted!'" said Marita, who added that she was also floored when she saw the picture, too. "My stomach started... I started crying. He hugged me and we just cried and cried.
The announcement caps a search for a man captured on surveillance video and a photo (see below) whom Lottery officials said likely bought the ticket at the Kwik & Convenient Liquor Mart at 3157 Walnut Avenue in Fremont.
AJ Kumar, a cashier at the store, said he's waited on the mystery winner many times and he sold the ticket as a Quick Pick on July 25.
Lottery officials say the winner had physically checked his ticket several times at Bay Area Raley’s and Safeway stores, but for some reason he has yet to claim the money.
On Thursday, the Lottery put out the photo and a plea asking the mystery man to bring his winning ticket to a lottery office.
The lottery was on July 27. The winning numbers are 2, 3, 4, 8, 43 with the Mega number 26. The estimated cash value? $40.5 million.
This is one of the first times the Lottery has released a photo of a lottery winner. The practice is part of "on-going public effort to connect Lottery customers with their winnings."
Over the past two years a total of more than $20.5 million in prizes went unclaimed.
The Agnites are sure glad they claimed their prize. As for plans for the money? Marita still plans to work, and the couple hopes to buy a house and send their children to college.