New Jersey Michael Weirsky jackpot, hunted for a job for a year

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New Jersey Michael Weirsky jackpot, hunted for a job for a year.

Mike Weirsky finally got a call for a job interview Wednesday after more than a year of looking for employment without any luck.

But that call came three days too late, he said. On Sunday, Weirsky realized he was getting something better than a job — a check for $162.5 million.

New Jersey’s newest millionaire hit the $273 million jackpot, winning the Mega Millions with a ticket he purchased last Thursday at the QuickChek on New Brunswick Avenue in Phillipsburg. But that good fortune could have fallen to someone else, after Weirsky left the ticket behind while “messing” with his phone.

Even luckier, maybe, than hitting those winning numbers, was the fact that another customer found them and turned them in, back when those tickets were still worth only $2 each.

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The 54-year-old from Alpha came back the next day and picked them up, glad they didn’t end up as another loss. But he didn’t think about the tickets again for a few days, he said. Friday, and those numbers, came and went. It wasn’t until Sunday, while talking to a friend who played and lost, that Weirsky thought to check his tickets. The first one, garbage. But the second, a winner.

“I just didn’t believe it,” he said Thursday afternoon, during a press conference at the New Jersey Lottery’s headquarters in Trenton.

Weirsky said he wants to find the stranger who turned his ticket in, rather than taking it. He would like to give a reward for his honesty.

James A. Carey, Jr., acting executive director of the New Jersey Lottery, said those who play the lottery should be sure to sign their tickets. Anyone who found a winning ticket on the ground would be able to cash it.

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Weirsky said he has a habit of spending about $20 a week playing the lottery, but had stopped when money got tight. He started trying his chances again just two weeks ago.

The good news comes after a hard year, in which he and his wife divorced. Weirsky had spent 15 years following her around the country, living in seven states. But she worked during those years, while he was a homemaker. He doesn’t have any children.

He said his ex-wife called upon hearing the news, telling him she plans to take him back to court.

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Weirsky is taking the lump sum of $162.5 million, he said. Carey said Weirsky will receive his check in a few weeks, after they fully process the funds.

QuickChek also received $30,000, a bonus for selling the winning ticket, Carey said.

Weirsky has jumped ahead and already bought the new truck he wanted, and plans to get a new car for his mother. He hasn’t made any big decisions about the money, but is looking forward to just waking up and making a choice, without stress, to buy something expensive he wants or take a trip.

He said he has no plans to start a business, but would rather “sit back and enjoy it.”

“I was down,” he said. “Now, all of the sudden, I’m way up.”

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