The desi who returned a $1 million lottery ticket

‘I don’t know what touched me, but the next day I felt like, I should just give it back.’

Abhi Shah, a Federal Insurance employee and part time worker at the family store owned by his family in Southwick, Massachusetts, found a partly scratched lottery ticket in his store last Friday and was shocked to learn that the ticket had won one million dollars.

Abhi went through a plethora of emotions during the weekend that he was in possession of the winning ticket. He found the ticket amongst the many discarded ones that customers leave behind after trying their luck by scratching the lottery ticket.

“People scratch lottery tickets their entire life and are unsuccessful. I got the money, even if it was for the weekend, without even scratching the ticket, picking it up from a pile of trash,” Abhi tells Rediff.com US Contributor Abhijit Masih.

Unable to contain his excitement, he called his parents who came rushing back to the store.

Once the exhilaration had died down, the Shah family realised that the lottery ticket did not belong to them.

They also realised who the rightful owner was.

It was Lea Rosa Fiega who visited the store during her lunch break almost everyday and would often purchase lottery tickets.

Over that weekend, Abhi was ecstatic, even dreaming of buying a Tesla Model X. “I started researching the Tesla models, as to which one I should get my hands on,” he says.

“For that night, I was very happy and dreaming about all sorts of things that I could buy and how it can change our entire life,” says Abhi. “But all of a sudden, I don’t know what touched me or who said something to me, but the next day I felt like I should just give it back.”

“Lea works for an insurance company,” he adds. “I found the ticket on Friday evening and since offices are shut over the weekend, I went to her office on Monday morning”.

The Shah family moved to the US from Surat eleven years ago and made Massachusetts their home.

Abhi and his wife have federal jobs and his parents run the store that sells liquor, groceries and lottery tickets.

Abhi’s mother Aruna Shah manages the store each day from noon to five and is considered the ‘Lucky One’ at the aptly named Lucky Spot store.

Numerous customers request Aruna to select the lottery tickets for them as they feel she has the Midas touch and helped many win small and big amounts.

The largest amount a customer has won at the Lucky Spot store prior to this million dollar win was $10,000.

I spoke to Aruna on the phone before I spoke to Abhi and for some reason I feel lucky and am tempted to buy a lottery ticket myself.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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