$273 million Mega Millions lottery winner almost forgot ticket in New Jersey store

LAWRENCE TWP., N.J. -- A man who has been unemployed for 15 years, and had just gotten divorced back in October, was at the New Jersey Lottery Headquarters on Thursday to claim the $273 million Mega Millions jackpot.

Michael J. Weirsky, a resident of Alpha in Warren County, New Jersey, was the sole winner.

The drawing was held on Friday, March 1, 2019.

He purchased his lucky ticket at QuickCheck, a store near his home where he frequently purchases his lottery tickets.

LOTTERY JACKPOTS: Things you need to consider if you win

Weirsky had two tickets to check that weekend. The first ticket was not a winner. After reviewing the second and seeing a lot of matching numbers, he knew he had to get it to the store immediately to confirm he had a winner.

He ventured out in a snowstorm to his closest retailer to scan the ticket. He read the good news in person.

It was a jackpot-winning ticket!

"I just didn't believe it. I just didn't believe that it was me, after all these years of playing, I finally had something that said you're a big winner than two dollars," Weirsky said.

RELATED: How do the jackpots grow?

Perhaps most shocking about Weirsky's jackpot win is the fact that he almost lost the ticket right after he purchased it. He forgot the ticket on the counter of the store.

"Paying more attention to my cell phone. I put the tickets down to put my money away. Did something with my phone and just walked away," Weirsky said.

Fortunately, another customer got his attention and reminded him to grab the ticket.

Meanwhile, Weirsky said he has heard from his ex-wife.

"She just called me today and told me she's taking me back to court," he said.

The $273 million jackpot has a cash option of $162 million.

"I always wanted to know what it would be like to able to just wake up and just go somewhere or go buy something and just do it," said Weirsky. "When I get the money I am going to do that. I am going to try that."

The retailer that sold the winning ticket, QuickChek at 600 New Brunswick Avenue in Phillipsburg, received a $30,000 bonus check for selling the winning ticket.

See more stories, photos and videos lotteries.
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.