Jay Chabra knows what it’s like to sell a Mega Millions winner.
He was operating the cash register at Shore Stationary & Gifts in Bay Shore when a lottery regular bought a $1 million winner in October 2020.
“It was amazing,” said Chabra, the store’s manager. “Just knowing how much a million dollars could make her life a little easier.”
Now Chabra hopes lightning strikes twice and with more force as the Mega Millions jackpot has climbed above $1.1 billion for Tuesday’s drawing. His shop, located next to a neighborhood bar in an unassuming strip mall on Howells Road, was the place to be for locals hoping to claim the life-altering prize.
“This is a lucky place,” remarked Cesar Mansilla, of Bay Shore, as he walked out with a $10 ticket that gives him five chances to win the jackpot. A lump-sum payout, even after taxes, would amount to more than $375 million.
For Mansilla and so many Long Islanders, the first thought of how they would spend such a fortune was to ease the financial pressure of family members. He said he’d share the winnings with his 10 brothers and their children and send money back home to his native Guatemala.
Fellow Bay Shore resident Jay Healey was on the fence about buying another ticket, as he was still wallowing in the disappointment of picking losing numbers on Friday
He agreed with Mansilla that family came first if you hit the big one. He talked about taking care of relatives, while also living out a few fantasies.
“I’d buy a plane ticket around the world,” Healey said, noting that his ancestral homes of Ireland and England top his list of destinations.
John Morehouse, of Sayville, stopped off at three different shops to purchase Mega Millions tickets Friday, hoping such a strategy would increase his odds of winning.
He thought of how rewarding it would be to give back, and his mind led him to Florida Atlantic University, where his 21-year-old daughter Nicole is on the dance team.
“It would be great to donate to them in her name, set up a scholarship for other student-athletes who could use the money,” Morehouse said.
Chabra said the steady flow of customers Saturday was nothing like the lines he expected to see in the hours before the next drawing.
On Tuesday and Friday at 11 p.m., five winning numbers are drawn from a field of 1 to 70, plus a Mega Ball drawn from a separate field of one to 25. The New York Lottery announced two $1 million second-place winners Friday, with one ticket sold in Manhattan and another in upstate Troy.
In Elmont, the sidewalks of Hempstead Turnpike were quiet on Saturday. Shailesh Patel filled the time sweeping the floors of 13-35 Turnpike Convenience and Grocery.
The winning tickets he’s sold have paid out more modest prizes than Chabra's, but Patel still proudly displays the signs in his store. In 2022, he sold $5,000 and $2,500 Win4 tickets.
Patel even sometimes plays the game of chance himself at the shop he’s owned with his wife — “the boss both here and at home” — for the past seven years.
“Who wouldn’t want to be a millionaire?” Patel asked from behind the counter of his shop.
On Saturday his lottery business was slow, but he expected it to pick up in the days to come.
From 11 a.m. to noon, Patel sold tickets to three customers, including Mike Tripoli, who bought $6 worth of tickets and said he was hoping for a little “luck … maybe.” As he walked away from the store, he recalled an old lottery slogan.
“All it takes is a dollar,” Tripoli said.
He’ll find out if that’s true at 11 p.m. Tuesday.