$266 Million Lottery Winner Is Keeping Her Job

What do you do when you win $266 million? If you’re like Jacki Cisneros, the answer is self-evident: You go to work.

That’s where the newest Mega Millions lottery winner was early Thursday morning — and where she plans to continue to be.

“I can’t imagine not working. It’s a foreign concept to me,” Cisneros told TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira from the newsroom of KNBC television in Low Angeles, where she was finishing her shift as an overnight assignment editor.

With Cisneros was her husband, Gilbert Cisneros, who two weeks ago had been laid off from his job and no longer needs to worry about stretching the family budget.

Fateful choice of restaurant
Gilbert had purchased 10 Mega Millions tickets Tuesday night when he stopped at a Pico Rivera, Calif., restaurant, L & L Hawaiian BBQ, to pick up dinner.

The choice of restaurant was sheer luck. Gilbert had been in downtown Los Angeles on jury duty Tuesday. He called Jacki before heading home and asked what she wanted for dinner.

“She said she had a craving for KFC. All I could think about was that double-decker chicken sandwich, and I said, ‘I don’t want that,’ ” Gilbert said.

His first thought was to pick up Mexican food downtown, but he couldn’t find a cheap place to park.

“The parking there was like $8,” he said. “I wasn’t going to pay $8 to park.”

So he stopped at the BBQ place on the way home instead. While he was there, he invested 10 bucks in randomly picked tickets for the jackpot.

A co-worker’s call
Tuesday night, Jacki went in to work at the NBC affiliate. While there, a co-worker saw that the winning ticket had been sold at a restaurant in Pico Rivera. Knowing Jacki lived in that area, the co-worker told Jacki about it.

She called home and woke up Gilbert to tell him to look at those tickets he’d bought. Sure enough, halfway down the list of 10 sets of numbers were the winners: 9, 21, 31, 36, 43, with 8 as the mega number.

A total of 28 tickets with all the numbers except for the mega number were sold in the multistate lottery. Those will collect $179,428 each in California, and $250,000 each in other states. Danny He, the owner of the restaurant where Gilbert bought the ticket, will collect $1 million.

It’s the eight-highest jackpot in Mega Millions history and can be collected either in 26 annual installments of $10.2 million or in a lump sum of about $165 million before taxes. The odds of winning were 175,711,536 to 1.

Planning to give back
Jacki might have gone home, but she could barely move.

“My hand was shaking. My legs felt like they were going to buckle. I laughed and cried,” she said. She told co-workers about the win, but asked them not to give her name away until she and her husband had a bit of time to come to grips with the change in their fortunes.

And Wednesday night, she was back at work on the graveyard shift.

“Why are you at work, Jacki?” Lauer asked.

“To be on the TODAY show,” she laughed.

The Cisneroses are still trying to figure out what to do with their new wealth. Lauer asked what their first purchase will be.

“Buy a house somewhere,” Jacki said. “We don’t know where. We’re like kids in a candy store.”

They’ve also promised each other to share their good fortune — after they go to church to thank God for being so nice to them.

“We’re going to make sure we give back to those that need it, give back to our alma maters, to our church,” Gilbert said. “Try to do what’s right.”

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