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Lottery winner grateful after good Samaritan returns $273 million winning ticket

A New Jersey man is celebrating a life-changing lottery jackpot after a store clerk kept the winning ticket safe when the man accidentally left it on the counter.
/ Source: TODAY

A New Jersey man would have missed out on a $273 million lottery jackpot if it wasn't for a good Samaritan store clerk who kept his tickets safe after he accidentally left them on the store counter.

Mike Weirsky, 54, scored the life-changing Mega Millions jackpot when Quick Chek clerk Phil Campolo found the pair of $2 lottery tickets that Weirsky left behind after purchasing them last week at the location near his home in rural Alpha.

"I put the tickets down, put my money away, and did something with my phone and just walked away,'' Weirsky said at a press conference on Thursday. "I figured when I woke up Friday morning, like, well, just another thing I lost."

"I wouldn't have 273 million dollars if it wasn't for them."

Weirsky went back the next day after realizing he left his tickets behind, and thankfully the store had held them for him. Days after the drawing, he checked the tickets and realized he had just become a multi-millionaire.

"I put the ticket down. I sat down for a second and looked at my mother and said, 'Hey that just said I'm the jackpot winner,''' he said. "She's like, 'What's that mean?' I said, 'I won 273 million dollars.'"

The stroke of good fortune came after Weirsky said he spent the last 15 years unemployed while living with his former wife, Eileen Murray, 53, who works as a cost analyst for a utilities company. The two divorced in October.

"He’s not appealing to me all of a sudden because he has this money,'' Murray told The New York Post. "I’m not going after anything. I have morals. I know what I’ve worked for and it's everything that I have."

"I truly wish him well...though I know he doesn’t believe that. I want him to surround himself with good people. I don’t think anybody should be taken advantage of."

Weirsky now plans to show his gratitude to Campolo.

"I'm gonna give him something yes, but I'm gonna keep that private,'' he said.

"My parents raised me to be a good person, honest, sincere,'' Campolo said. "I try to take that with me everywhere I go."