Mega Millions Winner: “I Just Screamed and Cried”

Jacki Wells Cisneros also laughed after learning she won $266M. Then she finished her shift

It was during Gilbert Cisneros'  visit to L&L Hawaiian Barbecue in Pico Rivera that the winner of the estimated $266 million Mega Millions jackpot decided to buy a ticket.

"I didn't even know they sold lottery tickets there," Cisneros said.

The numbers in Tuesday night's multi-state Mega Millions draw -- 9, 21, 31, 36, 43 and the Mega number 8 -- matched one of the 10 tickets purchased by Cisneros at the restaurant.

BBQ with a side of lottery tickets -- mmm-millionaires.

A minor dispute over dinner led Gilbert to the winning ticket. His wife, long-time NBCLA television newswoman Jacki Wells Cisneros, wanted KFC. But Gilbert was in the mood for Mexican food from Olvera Street.

"All I could think about was that double-decker chicken sandwich, and I was like, 'I don't want that,'" Gilbert said.

Wise choice. He headed toward Olvera Street but couldn't find a parking space -- at least, a reasonably priced place to park.

"I remembered having chicken at a Hawaiian BBQ before and thought, 'You know, that sounds pretty good,'" Gilbert said, making the most important dinner decision of his life. 

It was hours later when they discovered they hit the Mega Millions.

Jacki was working her overnight shift at NBCLA when a news bulletin said the winning ticket had been purchased in Pico Rivera at L&L Barbecue.  News producer Jeff Evans remembered Jacki was from Pico Rivera and handed her the advisory.

She woke Gilbert up at home and demanded he retrieve his L&L lottery tickets. 

"He was reading the fourth and the fifth number and all of a sudden he said, 'I think we won,'" Jacki said. "My hand was shaking the phone, I went to hang up the phone and I was shaking, and my legs felt like they were going to buckle. I just screamed and cried, and laughed."

Gilbert told Jacki, "It's two in the morning. I told her to calm down calm down. I told her to stop yelling, we want to be anonymous, I don't want anyone to know, but so much for that."

Jacki then called a co-worker to tell him about the morning's top story.

"She called and said, 'Are you sitting down?' I said, 'I'm laying down, what's up?'" said co-worker David Reese. "I thought something was on fire."

Jacki finished the remaining hours on her shift and left for home at her normal off time of 8 a.m.

The couple said they picked the numbers at random. The couple also said that Gilbert recently lost his job.

As for what they plan to do with the money, Gilbert said they plan to set up an estate plan and think over their options. They could take a one-time payout of roughly half the $266 million jackpot or opt for annual payments over 25 years.

And about that chicken dinner...

Her Facebook status update at 8:48 p.m., Tuesday: "Kentucky Fried Chicken wasn't so finger lickin' good... I feel ill!"

Gilbert commented about 10 minutes later: "I told you."

The owner of the L&L Restaurant will get a half of 1 percent of the winnings with a total cap at $1 million. With this large of a prize, the retailer can expect the cap. Lottery officials were at the restaurant Wednesday to present the owner with a check.
The estimated jackpot is the eighth largest in the history of the game, which began in 2002. The odds of matching all five numbers and the Mega number is 1 in 175,711,536, according to the Mega Millions website.

Twenty-eight tickets -- seven sold in California, three each in New Jersey and Virginia, two each in Michigan, Missouri, New York and Ohio, and one each in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas --  had five numbers, but didn't have the Mega number.

The seven sold in California are each worth $179,428, while the other 21 are each worth $250,000, California Lottery officials announced.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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