SAN JOSE — Call it the 318 million dollar question of the day.
Who is San Jose’s newest multi-millionaire and what will that person do with all that money?
One of two winning tickets in Tuesday’s Mega Millions lottery drawing was purchased in San Jose, lottery officials confirmed Tuesday night. The winning ticket in the $ 636 million drawing — with numbers 8, 14, 17, 20, 39 and a mega number of 7 — was sold at Jenny’s Gift Shop at 1818 Tully Road, according to California Lottery spokesman Russ Lopez.
A second winning Mega Millions ticket was sold in Atlanta, Georgia, according to lottery officials, though it was not immediately known if there were more winning tickets.
The winners can choose to be paid over time or in a cash lump sum, Mega Millions Executive Director Paula Otto said. Based on the $ 636 million figure, the winners would receive $ 318 million each over time or $ 170 million each in cash.
Social media was buzzing late Tuesday night as people wondered who bought the lucky ticket in San Jose.
Jenny’s Gift Shop owner Thuy Nguyen, who said he had just taken over the store four months ago, said lottery sales had “been keeping me real busy” Tuesday. He planned to reopen the store at 9 a.m. today.
“The lottery called me and let me know (that the winning ticket was sold here), so then when I came and take a look, everybody (was) here, and whoa!” Nguyen said with a huge grin, jumping deliriously around the parking lot before heading out to celebrate.
Nguyen added with a laugh: “I am so happy, I feel good.”
Mel Cruz, a security guard at the strip mall that includes Jenny’s Gift Shop, said he had bought 15 tickets from the store where the winning ticket was sold but only had a few numbers.
But he remained optimistic.
“I bought two tickets for my girlfriend that she hasn’t looked at,” he said. “I told her to hold on to them — don’t lose your numbers! I said, ‘If you win, you gotta give me something.’ She said ‘I’d buy you a coffee, but just one.'”
Lottery officials said Nguyen would receive a prize of about $ 1 million for selling the winning ticket.
“This is a long time coming,” Lopez said. “We have some of the best, most loyal players. We have some great people who spend a dollar or two and their lives are going to change overnight.”
Peter Lai, 28, who owns a pho restaurant in the same strip mall, said people often congregate I’m the courtyard to “chill” and play the lottery.
“They’ll hang out, go in and buy a scratcher, come out and scratch it,” he said.
He added that he is excited for his shopkeeper neighbor.
“He was like ‘man, I wish I had some money, I would remodel this place.'”
Hai Nguyen, not related to the shop keeper, said be played last week but not this time.
He said that some of the shopkeepers that play pool their money, and maybe there will be a group winner.
“They take their money and put it together in one big pot for tickets.”
The jackpot was believed to be the second-highest in U.S. history. A March 2012 jackpot hit $ 656 million.
Two other states have yet to report if any winning tickets were sold, but in the San Diego County area, two tickets that matched five of the six numbers were also sold.
“This is a big deal,” Lopez said. “We are excited when anybody wins money, but this is just huge.”
Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase the jackpots by lowering the odds of winning the top prize. That means the chances of winning the jackpot are now about 1 in 259 million. It used to be about 1 in 176 million, nearly the same odds of winning a Powerball jackpot.
The Mega Millions revamp comes about two years after Powerball changed some of its game rules and increased the price of a ticket to $ 2 and added $ 1 million and $ 2 million secondary prizes. Mega Millions remains $ 1, and an extra $ 1 option has been expanded to allow up to $ 5 million as a secondary prize.
The Mega Millions lottery is available in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Katie Nelson at Twitter.com/katienelson210.