SAN JOSE, Calif. - The person who bought the Mega Millions jackpot-winning ticket in San Jose has finally claimed his $324 million prize.
Steve Tran claimed his prize late Thursday afternoon. The jackpot was worth $648 million and was split between Tran and a winner in Georgia who both matched all five numbers and the Mega number.
Why did it take Tran so long to claim his prize? Well, that's a story that almost did not have a happy ending.
"Everybody was anxious, looking for the person," Tran said about the media coverage. He couldn't help but think, "Must be a lucky man." Tran said at that moment he didn't know the lottery player the nation was looking for was him.
Tran, a deliveryman, buys Lotto tickets at many of the places he stops. When he and his family stopped in San Jose and bought tickets at Jennifer's Gift Shop, he just added those tickets to his pile.
According to Tran, the entire pile of tickets ended up "just sitting in my house, on top of my drawer."
Meanwhile, Tran and his family went on vacation and only recently returned home. Tran said out of nowhere, something clicked. "I woke up in the middle of the night. I remembered, I think I went to San Jose."
It was around 3 a.m. Monday. Tran said he checked his tickets and discovered he had hit the jackpot. He told his wife and some family members.
Tran also left a a special voicemail for his employer, "I'm really sorry boss. I hit the jackpot. I don't think I'm going to come in today, tomorrow, or ever."
Tran has 60 days to decide how he would like to get his winnings, the cash equivalent for each ticket is $173.8 million before federal taxes. According to the California Lotto, Tran will have to pay the federal tax rate of 25% but he will not have to pay California state taxes on his winning.