A northeast Iowa man said he was so flustered when he realized he’d won a $1 million Mega Millions prize that he left his winning ticket behind at the store where he checked it. But there is a happy ending: The small-town grapevine reconnected him with the ticket within about 30 minutes.
“I’m still in shock. My stomach is not right,” Tad Alber of West Union said Tuesday as he claimed his prize at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive.
Alber, 57, said he was working Saturday at the West Union Event Center, which is owned by his family, and had not yet heard that a ticket purchased in the nearby community of Ossian had won a $1 million prize in Friday’s Mega Millions drawing. As the afternoon went on, Alber said he got hungry and decided to go to a local store for some chicken. While he was there, he asked the clerks to check his Mega Millions tickets.
Alber said that when the clerk told him he’d won $1 million, he was so shaky and excited, he left the winning ticket behind.
“I almost forgot to pay for the chicken,” he said. “They told me, ‘You’ve got to buy the chicken.’ So I turned around and bought the chicken and left!”
After getting back to the event center, Alber said that he had just finished telling his brother, Jeff, and sister-in-law, Luann, his big news when Luann’s sister called. She manages the store where he had checked his winning ticket.
“She said, ‘Tad has his ticket here, tell him to get back to the store and get the ticket!’”Alber recalled with a laugh. “I used up all the luck in the family!”
Alber bought his $1 million-winning ticket at Casey’s, 200 W. Main St. in Ossian. His ticket came within one number of having at least a share of Friday’s $99 million jackpot, matching the first five numbers but missing the Mega Ball. It was the only $1 million-winning ticket nationwide in Friday’s drawing.
Friday’s winning numbers were: 12-18-24-46-65 and Mega Ball 3. The Megaplier® number was 4. Casey’s will receive a $1,000 bonus from the Iowa Lottery for selling the $1 million-winning ticket at one of its stores.
Alber’s ticket is the fourth in Iowa to win a prize of at least $1 million in 2022. He said that news of his big win spread quickly through the community.
“I think by 2 p.m., half the town already knew. By 5 p.m., everybody knew,” he said. “And it’s amazing.”
Alber said that he plans to use a portion of his winnings to buy a restaurant in nearby Clermont that his brother, Jeff, owns, but which has been closed since the COVID-19 emergency.
“I think it’s time for it to re-open up and now I’ve got the money that I can do it,” he said.
Players in $2 Mega Millions choose their first five numbers from a pool of 70, and another number – called the Mega Ball – from a separate pool of 25. The Megaplier option is available for an extra $1 per play.