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Video: $266M lottery winner ‘just kept working’

  1. Transcript of: $266M lottery winner ‘just kept working’

    MATT LAUER, co-host: The chances of winning the Mega Millions Lotto , which is played in about 38 states , is one in 177 million.

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: OK, that's true. But imagine the surprise of everyone at our NBC station in LA when a newsroom staffer and her husband won Tuesday night 's $266 million prize. We're going to talk to them in a moment. But first, here's NBC 's George Lewis .

    Ms. JACKI CISNEROS ($266 Million Lottery Winner): I have 184 e-mails.

    Mr. GILBERT CISNEROS ($266 Million Lottery Winner): I was trying to remain anonymous .

    GEORGE LEWIS reporting: Gilbert Cisneros can forget about that now. His wife, Jacki , an overnight assignment editor at the NBC station in Los Angeles , was on duty Wednesday morning and saw that the winning $266 million lottery ticket had been purchased at a Hawaiian restaurant Gilbert had gone to the previous night . And yes, he had played the lotto.

    Mr. JEFF EVANS (KNBC News Producer): She called her husband at home, he checked his ticket and all of a sudden she just started screaming, she started tearing up.

    Mr. CISNEROS: I said, yeah, I think -- I think I got it. And then she started just going hysterical, `Oh, my God! Oh, my God!'

    Ms. CISNEROS: My hand was shaking the phone. I went to hang up the phone and I was shaking and my legs felt like they were going to buckle and I just cried and laughed at the same time.

    LEWIS: Though overcome with emotion, Jacki kept on working in the newsroom, phoning a colleague at 2:30 in the morning.

    Mr. DAVID REESE (KNBC Assignment Manager): She called and said, `Are you sitting down?' And I said, `I'm laying down. I was asleep!' And I 'm like, ` What's up ?' And I thought something was on fire.

    LEWIS: When Jacki got home, Gilbert said he had figured out the first thing he was going to do.

    Mr. CISNEROS: I'm going to church. I'm going to go thank God .

    LEWIS: Giving thanks while still not quite believing what had happened to them. For TODAY, George Lewis, NBC News, Los Angeles.

    LAUER: Jacki and Gilbert Cisneros are with us now this morning. Good morning to both of you and congratulations.

    VIEIRA: Yeah.

    Ms. CISNEROS: Good morning and thank you.

    Mr. CISNEROS: Good morning. Thank you.

    LAUER: Jacki, Jacki, Jacki. Why are you at work, Jacki ?

    Ms. CISNEROS: To be on the TODAY show .

    LAUER: So honestly speaking, you find out you win this money , you stayed throughout your shift last night helping to put the morning news on the air for the people out there in Los Angeles .

    VIEIRA: Mm-hmm.

    LAUER: No thought of just getting up and heading out the door and saying, ` See you , suckers'?

    Ms. CISNEROS: Well, initially I wanted to go home, but I was so nervous and I was shaking and I felt like my legs were going to fall out from underneath me that I probably should just stay there and sort of regroup. And then I thought, well, what am I going to go home for? I'm just going to sit there and stare at a ticket. I mean, we can't really do anything until, you know, daylight. So I just continued working. And I probably will continue working for as long as KNBC will allow me. I can't -- I can't imagine not working. It seems kind of -- it's a foreign concept to me.

    VIEIRA: Yeah. And, Gilbert , you just recently lost your job. You were on jury duty , you were on your way home . And if you had listened to Jacki , you wouldn't be sitting here as a million -dollar -- multimillion-dollar winners at all, would you?

    Mr. CISNEROS: No, not at all. She said she had a craving for KFC , and all I could think about was that double-decker chicken sandwich and I'm like, I don't want that. I'll pass. So she told me, she goes, `Well, then you're on your own for dinner.' And actually, I was in downtown LA , so my first thought was, `You know what? I think I'm going to go get some Mexican food down at Olvera Street .' But driving around looking for parking, the parking there was like $8, and I'm like, `I'm not going to pay that for parking.' So...

    VIEIRA: No, let your chauffeur do it from now on.

    LAUER: Exactly.

    VIEIRA: So you ended up at the barbecue joint and the rest is history .

    Mr. CISNEROS: I end -- yeah, I ended up over there. I ordered my food and, you know what? Let me have 10 lotto tickets, too.

    VIEIRA: Wow.

    LAUER: Oh, man, did that work out.

    Mr. CISNEROS: And that was it.

    LAUER: Real quickly, just a few seconds left, what are you going to do with the money ? What's the first thing?

    Ms. CISNEROS: Buy a house somewhere. We don't know where now. We were like kids in a candy store .

    LAUER: Yeah.

    Mr. CISNEROS: Yeah. I think our thing right now is we're...

    LAUER: Tahiti is nice this time of year.

    Ms. CISNEROS: OK. That's an option .

    Mr. CISNEROS: But we're going to make sure we give back to those and -- who need it, and I know we talked about contributing to our alma maters and then also to give back to our church, so.

    VIEIRA: Yeah. Lovely people.

    LAUER: That's awfully nice of you guys.

    Mr. CISNEROS: We're going to try and do what's right.

    LAUER: Well, good for you guys.

    VIEIRA: Yeah.

    LAUER: We're thrilled for you. It's nice when it -- when it happens to people who deserve it.

    VIEIRA: Nice people finish first, that's right.

    LAUER: That's great. Jacki , Gilbert , congratulations.

TODAY contributor
updated 5/6/2010 9:00:43 AM ET 2010-05-06T13:00:43

What do you do when you win $266 million? If you’re like Jacki Cisneros, the answer is self-evident: You go to work.

That’s where the newest Mega Millions lottery winner was early Thursday morning — and where she plans to continue to be.

“I can’t imagine not working. It’s a foreign concept to me,” Cisneros told TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira from the newsroom of KNBC television in Los Angeles, where she was finishing her shift as an overnight assignment editor.

With Cisneros was her husband, Gilbert Cisneros, who two weeks ago had been laid off from his job and no longer needs to worry about stretching the family budget.

Fateful choice of restaurant
Gilbert had purchased 10 Mega Millions tickets Tuesday night when he stopped at a Pico Rivera, Calif., restaurant, L & L Hawaiian BBQ, to pick up dinner.

Video: NBC employee wins $266 million in lottery The choice of restaurant was sheer luck. Gilbert had been in downtown Los Angeles on jury duty Tuesday. He called Jacki before heading home and asked what she wanted for dinner.

“She said she had a craving for KFC. All I could think about was that double-decker chicken sandwich, and I said, ‘I don’t want that,’ ” Gilbert said.

His first thought was to pick up Mexican food downtown, but he couldn’t find a cheap place to park.

“The parking there was like $8,” he said. “I wasn’t going to pay $8 to park.”

So he stopped at the BBQ place on the way home instead. While he was there, he invested 10 bucks in randomly picked tickets for the jackpot.

A co-worker’s call
Tuesday night, Jacki went in to work at the NBC affiliate. While there, a co-worker saw that the winning ticket had been sold at a restaurant in Pico Rivera. Knowing Jacki lived in that area, the co-worker told Jacki about it.

Gilbert Cisneros checked his lottery tickets and discovered he had the winning one.
She called home and woke up Gilbert to tell him to look at those tickets he’d bought. Sure enough, halfway down the list of 10 sets of numbers were the winners: 9, 21, 31, 36, 43, with 8 as the mega number.

A total of 28 tickets with all the numbers except for the mega number were sold in the multistate lottery. Those will collect $179,428 each in California, and $250,000 each in other states. Danny He, the owner of the restaurant where Gilbert bought the ticket, will collect $1 million.

It’s the eight-highest jackpot in Mega Millions history and can be collected either in 26 annual installments of $10.2 million or in a lump sum of about $165 million before taxes. The odds of winning were 175,711,536 to 1.

Planning to give back
Jacki might have gone home, but she could barely move.

“My hand was shaking. My legs felt like they were going to buckle. I laughed and cried,” she said. She told co-workers about the win, but asked them not to give her name away until she and her husband had a bit of time to come to grips with the change in their fortunes.

And Wednesday night, she was back at work on the graveyard shift.

“Why are you at work, Jacki?” Lauer asked.

“To be on the TODAY show,” she laughed.

Gilbert Cisneros said that some of the winnings will go “back to those that need it,” including the couple’s church.
The Cisneroses are still trying to figure out what to do with their new wealth. Lauer asked what their first purchase will be.

“Buy a house somewhere,” Jacki said. “We don’t know where. We’re like kids in a candy store.”

They’ve also promised each other to share their good fortune — after they go to church to thank God for being so nice to them.

“We’re going to make sure we give back to those that need it, give back to our alma maters, to our church,” Gilbert said. “Try to do what’s right.”

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