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Snowstorm leads to last-minute, milion-dollar win

by Patrick Johnson | Jan 11, 2017


CONTACT: Patrick Johnson
Phone: 503-540-1037
Cell: 971-600-6059

Jan. 11, 2017 - Salem, Ore. -- An Oregon Coast man had one of the best snow days ever.

Like many Oregonians spending time at home during the recent winter weather, Joemel Panisa (pronounced: Joe-MEL Pa-NEE-sa) spent the time cleaning his office. But Panisa is different in one million ways -- he discovered his winning Mega Millions ticket just eight days before it was due to expire, thanks to the snow and ice storm.

Panisa told Oregon Lottery officials he placed the ticket in an envelope and put it in his office last January and forgot about it. When he came across it while cleaning, he checked the numbers online and realized it was a winner. He also said he remembered media reports about the unclaimed ticket expiring this month and knew he had to claim it as soon as possible.

Claiming his prize, Panisa's ticket became the fourth Mega Millions $1 million winner since the game was offered in Oregon in 2010.

Panisa purchased the ticket for the Friday, Jan. 15 drawing at the US Market 104, along Highway 101 in Newport on Jan. 13, 2016. He claimed the prize Jan. 9 and he had until Jan. 17 to claim the prize or it would have expired. All Mega Millions tickets are good for one year from the date of the drawing, and Panisa cut it very close.

The US Market 104 will receive a 1-percent selling bonus for selling the winning ticket, bringing in $10,000 for the store. Octavio Tamayo, manager of the store said they had enjoyed some large Scratch-It wins of $100,000 but nothing this big.

"It is surprising and very exciting," Tamayo said when he found out. "My staff is going to be wondering who bought the ticket now. Hopefully they come back in and let us know."

Tamayo said he wasn't sure what the company would do with the selling bonus, but said that they love hearing about winners so they can share with other players who come in.

Mega Millions is a game which features five white balls and one Mega Ball. It is drawn every Tuesday and Friday at 7:59 p.m. Panisa's quick pick ticket had five numbers but he missed the Mega Ball number.

All unclaimed prizes go into the state's Economic Development Fund. In fiscal year 2015, more than $5.9 million in unclaimed prizes were transferred to the fund.
Lottery officials recommend that you always sign the back of your tickets with each Oregon Lottery game you play, to ensure you can claim any prize you may win. The Oregon Lottery reminds players to always sign the back of their Lottery tickets, regardless of the game. In the event of winning a jackpot, they should consult with a trusted financial planner or similar professional to develop a plan for their winnings. Prize winners of more than $50,000 should contact the Lottery office to schedule an appointment to claim their prize.

Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned more than $11 billion for economic development, public education, state parks and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit