Luck runs out for California Lottery-winning liquor store

EZ Mart Liquor sold two winning $5 million Scratchers the last two years but was recently robbed of its California Lottery display


VISALIA – The phrase “lots of luck” has a dual meaning at EZ Mart Liquor in Visalia. For the last two years, it sums up the store’s streak of selling winning Scratchers each worth $5 million. 

Both times the store received a bonus of $25,000, one half of one percent of the total winnings, from the California Lottery for selling the winning ticket. The retailer bonus is not subtracted from the winner’s prize.  

But this year the phrase takes on new meaning as the liquor store is now a target for thieves looking to cash in on this lucky location. Just after 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 31, surveillance video shows a man walk into the store, pretend to wait for his turn at the register, and then steal the entire Scratchers display case before running out the door. The store estimates the loss to be about about $1,500.

According to the Visalia Police Department, the suspect was last ween running north and hopping into a bronze-colored four-door sedan that drove west on Walnut toward Mooney Boulevard.

The most recent winning ticket was sold in December to Scott Lambert at the store, located at 1302 W. Walnut Ave. in Visalia. Last week, the California Lottery reported Lambert claimed a $20 Triple Jackpot Scratchers worth $5 million, minus federal taxes of course. 

The California Lottery’s mission is to provide supplemental funding to California public schools, including kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, community colleges, the California State University, the University of California, and other California public educational entities. In fiscal year 2017-18 the Lottery transferred more than $1.7 billion to public education. This funding translates to an average of about $211 per student for students attending California’s public schools. 

During the same period the Lottery generated almost $7 billion in sales, more than 95% of which goes back to the community in the form of prize payments, retailer commissions and bonuses, and contributions to education. The California Lottery urges its customers to play responsibly.

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