Some people are just born lucky, while others wait their entire lives for one big break. Many in the latter category never seem to get that chance, but Oksana Zaharov of New Jersey was one of the exceptions. Zaharov was visiting Manhattan and was shopping around when the mother of two decided to buy a lottery ticket.
The only thing was, when Zaharov bought the ticket, she thought she was just buying a $1 scratch-off. The clerk working behind the counter accidentally handed her one of the $10 tickets called “Set For Life”. Many people would have simply pointed out the clerk’s mistake saying that it was the wrong one, but Zaharov decided to go along with it…and it’s a good thing she did.
“When the clerk handed me the wrong ticket, I felt bad so I decided to just go ahead and buy it,” she said. “I actually used the ticket as a bookmark for a couple of weeks before I decided to scratch it.”
The ticket, which could have just as easily went by the wayside in her home, or even to another customer, was eventually scratched. She found out that she had not only won, but won an amount worth a total of $5 million. Zaharov was in complete shock, and thought she might be seeing things at first. “I never win anything,” she said. “I was sure the ticket was fake.”
After turning in her ticket, Zaharov found out that she’d be getting her $5 million of the course of the next 20 years. The first 19 years payout $260,000 (just over $172,000 after taxes) and the final year then pays just under $40,000 after taxes. Granted the 46 year old is still alive when the 20 years runs out, she’ll be receiving $172,000 every year for as long as she’s alive, hence the “Set For Life” lottery name.
Zaharov plans on keeping the money in the family for the most part, saying that her two children will be able to go to college without having to take out student loans. The only big expenditure outside of that that she’s planned is a family trip to the Bahamas. Otherwise, things are going to be normal living for Zaharov and her family.
So just how unlikely was it that Zaharov was going to be able to win the grand prize? The $10 ticket’s lowest winning payout is a matching $10 prize, and the odds of that happening are a slim 1 in 11.36, with an overall chance of winning at about 1 in 4. For Zaharov, she was able to defy an insanely high 1 in 6.18 million chance of winning the $5 million top prize.
With Zaharov’s jackpot winning, there were only two unclaimed tickets with the top prize left. It sent some New Yorkers to their local gas stations and other lottery retailers to see if they could somehow get the wrong ticket, as well.