For months Virginia Lottery officials wondered what had happened to the third million-dollar winner of a new years day drawing, but not Kofi Nyanor.
The Alexandria resident knew almost immediately the ticket hed bought at a South Pickett Street Super Dollar Saver was worth almost $1 million more than he had paid for it. More than four months later, he decided it was time to collect his winnings.
Before Nyanor stepped forward, theories as to the tickets whereabouts abounded. Though it doesnt happen often most winners claim their prize within two weeks lottery officials have seen some go for months without realizing theyve won.
Storeowner Harrison Dang had his own theories. Hes seen customers lose or accidentally throw away winning tickets. He even had one patron wash a winning ticket after leaving in the pocket of a pair of jeans.
Nyanor instead quadruple-checked to make sure he had the winning numbers and then thought long and hard about what he would do with his $1 million prize. He kept it a secret in the meantime.
I just kept it to myself, he said. Im a cool guy, not someone who wants to show off.
He returned to the Super Dollar Saver Thursday to meet again with lottery officials and receive an oversized check. Friends and family snapped photographs as a smiling Nyanor put an end to the mystery of the million-dollar raffle ticket.
Now that hes had some time to weigh it in his mind, Nyanor will put the money into a trust for his golden years. He will continue working his two jobs, one at Inova Hospital and the other at a public school, until hes ready to retire. By then, he hopes the $1 million will have tripled.
Im not quitting my job, the 49-year-old native of Ghana said. Im busy and Im not giving up.
Ask Nyanor what he plans to do with his retirement when he gets there and hell shrug. A million dollars richer, hes still not sure.
Though hes become the new face of Virginia Lottery, Nyanor often passes on games of chance. He buys lottery tickets occasionally and hes won before, albeit not so much, though enough that his coworkers convinced him to enter the New Years Millionaire Raffle.
The conditions were perfect, he said. The potential winnings were too much to ignore and he had a few extra dollars in his pocket after working overtime.
That week was pay week, Nyanor said. So I said, why not try my luck. I was at the right place at the right time.
His luck paid off for Dang as well. The businessman received $10,000 from Virginia Lottery for selling the winning ticket just six months after the store began dealing in games of chance.
Del. Charniele Herring (D-46) was on hand to congratulate both men.
Im living vicariously through [Nyanor], she said, laughing. Im so proud of him and his family.
Though hes had plenty of time to let the prize sink in, Nyanor can recall his surprise at learning lady luck had stayed with him yet again.
I was shocked, he said. Somebody [had] to win it. If I win, its just my luck.