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Million-dollar lottery ticket pits Sanford store owner against employee

Posted December 10, 2014
Updated December 11, 2014

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— A Sanford man says he was cheated out of his share of a million-dollar winning lottery ticket by his former employer, a convenience store owner who says the two never went in together to buy the ticket.

Ben Elijah says he and Shailesh Patel, who owns Value Mart on Carthage Street, each paid $5 for the $10 scratch-off ticket back on Oct. 9 – a practice the two have had for the seven years he worked part-time running the cash register and sweeping floors at the business.

The pair even won and split $1,000 back in 2009, he says.

"We always scratch tickets together," Elijah said. "While I was mopping the floor, he scratched a million-dollar ticket. He didn't tell me."

Elijah says he heard from a friend that the ticket was sold at the store.

"But Mr. Patel kept telling everybody it was a traveler (that bought the ticket), that he didn't know who it was, which I can understand," Elijah said. "But I knew it was my ticket. It was our ticket."

Elijah says Patel claimed a lump sum that, after taxes, ended up being about $415,000.

"I should have went to the lottery office with him," he said. "That would have been better, but I trusted him."

Patel on Wednesday denied splitting the purchases for lottery tickets, including that $1,000 win several years ago.

He declined to comment, but his attorney, Norman Post, calls Elijah's claim "bogus" and says there is no record or witnesses of the two men ever buying the ticket together.

As far as the million-dollar ticket, he says the North Carolina Education Lottery investigated the win – a routine practice when a retailer wins from a scratch-off ticket. That investigation included footage of a security video from the store that, Patel claims, showed Elijah was not present when Patel bought the ticket.

Elijah says he has retained an attorney and is willing to go to court over the matter, if necessary.

But hopes he doesn't have to do so. He now feels betrayed.

"I lost something I could never get back, no matter how much money I would have won," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Cindy Rose Dec 11, 2014
    user avatar

    A lottery ticket is a bearer instrument; take a lesson.

  • hollylama Dec 11, 2014

    He should consider it a blessing and keep it movin'.

  • ncprr1 Dec 11, 2014

    It's a good lesson to all...take heed.

  • Cabe Merritt Dec 11, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    It was 415,00 lump sum AFTER taxes. You should learn some math. Maybe some English as well.

  • the opinion no one asked for Dec 11, 2014

    HMMM, Mr. Patel is not trustworthy, didn't see that one coming

  • rickandlinda88 Dec 11, 2014

    all lies..money does that..why is the store owner allowed to collect the winnings??i thought owners and employees were not able to play lotto games..too much cheating going on..but,that "rule"was not followed here...

  • busyb97 Dec 11, 2014

    Wile it would make me very mad, he needs to do the math. A lump sum payout of $415,000 to the store owner, would be about 200k. The employee would likely still have to pay taxes on it, since he wasnt the official recipient of the lottery winnings...the store owner was and taxes were done in his name.

    So after legal fees and taxes, what would he be left with?? Hardly seems worth it. "fool me once,shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you." Consider it lesson learned. At least it wasnt a multi million jackpot.

  • Steve Faulkner Dec 11, 2014
    user avatar

    Too bad, so sad. Winning lottery tickets are bearer instruments until they are signed, even says so on every ticket. I don't know what this guy thinks a lawyer is going to do for him, other than cost him money he obviously doesn't have.

  • tnjed Dec 11, 2014

    Mo money...mo problems....

  • Jill Perry Dec 11, 2014
    user avatar

    It is not necessary to scratch off a ticket to see if it's a winner. The store owner would only need to scan the ticket to determine if it's a winner and how much it's worth. The store owner could then buy the ticket himself. That's why I rarely buy scratch offs.