SoCal Lotto Player Had “Lucky Things Happening” Before Hitting $180M Jackpot

Rick Knudsen, a manager at a roofing distribution company, said he plans on moving his family from Calimesa to a home in the mountains.

A Southern California man who describes himself as a "numbers guy" said he felt he had to play the lottery when he noticed an unusual pattern during his purchases that made him "feel lucky."

"I went to a store, it was $6. I went to a restaurant, it was $24. Everything I bought for two days -- which was seven different times -- everything came back with no change, so I just felt lucky," said 53-year-old Rick Knudsen of the tiny Riverside County town of Calimesa. "That made me decide to buy a ticket. I don't buy tickets unless I feel lucky."

That lucky feeling moved Knudsen to purchase a lottery ticket about five times per year, including Aug. 21, he said. The married father of five said he "had a lot of lucky things happening" -- including the even-numbers streak and a lucky night at Fantasy Springs Casino -- so purchasing a Mega Millions ticket seemed like a good idea.

The $5 Quick Pick at a convenience store near his home turned out to reward him with a $180 million jackpot. Knudsen was the sole winner of the Aug. 22 draw.

Wearing flip-flops and shorts when he was introduced as the winner, Knudsen said he "retired the next day" from his job as a manager of a roofing distribution company. Knudsen said he plans on moving his family from Calimesa to a home in the mountains.

The couple was with family members in the Coachella Valley when her husband realized his was the winning tickets.

"When he said, 'I got this,' I said, 'No,'" said Lorie Knudsen. "I scanned it like he did, looked up at him and said, 'You got it.'

"We just started hugging and screaming."

The convenience store where Knudsen bought the ticket is also a winner, taking in a $900,000 retailer bonus check.

"(I'm) very excited. I didn’t sleep all night I was getting all the phone calls, text messages from our friends, family,” said Monira Begum, the 7-Eleven store owner.

Begnum and her husband will have to split their money with the 7-Eleven corporation.

Knudsen purchased the ticket just five weeks after a Fontana store churned out a $60 million Powerball winner.

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