Rick Knudsen admitted that he only plays the lottery “when I feel lucky,” about four or five times a year. The 53-year-old father of five said he was feeling especially lucky on 21st August 2014, so he bought a $5 California lottery ticket. The first set of numbers on that ticket – 5, 31, 34, 41, 7 and the mega number 74 – turned out to be the luckiest numbers of his life. The next day they won him the $180 million Mega Millions Jackpot.
Knudsen bought his California Mega Millions lottery ticket at a 7-Eleven store near his home in Calimesa, a largely rural community of about 8,000 people in Riverside County.
This particular lucky streak for Rick Knudsen occurred when he made seven purchases over two days, paying even dollar amounts (not odd), with no coins as change. “I’m a numbers guy. I don’t buy (lottery tickets) unless I feel lucky.” Considering his Mega Millions jackpot came through in the draw on 22nd August 2014, all even numbers, maybe he had a point!
The Knudsens, who had lived in Calimesa for 23 years, went away to stay at a time share in Indio owned by their daughter’s boyfriend’s mother the day after the California Lottery draw. In the morning, Rick’s sister called him and said, “Hey, somebody in Calimesa won the Mega Millions. Did you buy a ticket?” “Yes” he replied, After reading, re-reading and thrice reading the numbers just to be sure, he called to his wife, ‘”You need to check this out”.
The $180 million Mega Millions jackpot was the seventh largest in California history at the time of this draw.
The day after, Rick Knudsen retired as manager of RWC Building Products, a roofing distributor in San Bernardino. He and his wife, Lorie attended a press conference at the California Lottery district office in San Bernardino. Wearing flip-flops and shorts when he was introduced, he joked “Our bucket list got huge”.
The Knudsens elected to take the cash option of $107 million, which meant a fat $80.25 million in their pockets after tax deductions. They planned to use their Mega Millions jackpot to build a home in the mountains in Southern California, maybe even a place in Hawaii, buy some cars and to look after Lorie’s 83-year-old father. They also intended to take care of their three grandchildren, daughter and four sons. One of their sons, also named Rick, and 33 at the time, had undergone open-heart surgery three times.
The 7-Eleven store where Knudsen bought his ticket was also a winner, with a $900,000 retailer bonus from the California Lottery. “(I’m) very excited. I didn’t sleep all night I was getting all the phone calls, text messages from our friends, family,” said Monira Begum, the shop’s owner. Begnum and her husband had to split this money with the 7-Eleven corporation.
Calimesa is a city in Riverside County, California. Its name is said to come from ‘cali’ meaning California and ‘mesa’ from the Spanish word meaning ‘table’. It is the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains and has a population of just over 8,000.
You can read more about the California Lottery, Mega Millions jackpots and more winners’ stories at Lottery24.com.