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California lottery player strikes it rich, thanks to clerk

Brent Young stopped by a Visalia gas station for a tank of gas and two Scratchers recently and walked away a multimillionaire.

His good fortune was thanks to serendipity and one humble store clerk.

Young’s usual spot for a fill-up and lottery tickets was closed that day. “If it had been open,” he said in a news release, “none of this probably would have happened.”

So, he stopped off at Prince Food & Gas in Visalia.

“He came in the store,” clerk Shawn Gogna told The Times, “and was, like, what ticket should I pick out?”

The 21-year-old clerk chose two Scratchers lottery tickets for his customer. One of them — “lucky No. 17,” Gogna said — contained the game’s top prize of $10 million.

Young’s odds of winning, according to lottery spokesperson Carolyn Becker, were 1 in 3,041,187.

That’s not including, of course, the odds of his usual gas station being closed or the odds of having a store clerk with the magic touch.

“It’s crazy,” Young said. “Out of all those options, the clerk could have picked a different game.”

Young opted for the lump sum of $5.8 million, minus federal taxes. Prince Food & Gas is also a winner, receiving $50,000 for selling the winning ticket.

Gogna said his family had operated the Visalia store for about 20 years, and this lottery win was the biggest in its history and cause for celebration.

The Times asked Gogna whether he was getting a bonus for facilitating the win.

“Technically, no,” he said, but added that he wasn’t looking for a monetary reward. Handing over the winning ticket was a thrill. Also, he’s the owner’s son, and his father has helped out in buying him a vehicle, “so I am very grateful for that!”

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