California lottery officials have revealed the name of — but not much more about — the man who won $5 million on a scratcher ticket he bought in San Luis Obispo County in August: Clyde Stokely.
The winner, who bought the scratcher at the Cambria General Store on Aug. 9, is “extraordinarily private,” lottery spokesperson Carolyn Becker said.
“Stokely wants nothing to do with being in the public eye,” Becker told The Tribune by phone Friday.
However, the state’s lottery rules mandate the release of the winner’s name, when and where he bought the ticket and the size of the win. Stokely chose to keep his hometown and other details private, which he is allowed to do, Becker said.
It took longer to reveal Stokely’s name than it would have if he’d had a big-ticket win in the regular lottery, Becker said, because more time is needed to verify the validity of a scratcher claim.
Scratchers are bought directly over the counter, just like any other store purchase, she told The Tribune in August. The seller has no record of who bought which ticket. So, the state has to make sure a win is genuine.
California Lottery considers any win of $1 million or more to be big enough to warrant notifying the public about it, Becker said.
The system “processes more than 10,000 prize claims a month,” and annually there are roughly 120 wins of $1 million or more, she said.
‘It’s just a funny thing to do.’ Winner shares how he won $5 million scratcher
Though he wished to keep details about himself private, Stokely did authorize lottery officials to share his initial reaction to the win, Becker said.
“Stokely had been trying for many years to win big, playing a wide selection of California Lottery Scratchers games,” she said. “All that persistence literally paid off when number 28 on his 100x game matched the top prize amount of $5 million.”
“I was excited, of course,” Stokely told officials. “I had to look at it a bunch of times in my vehicle to make sure I wasn’t seeing 26 instead of 28.”
“I also looked at it a bunch of times at home and had the confirmation I needed,” he said. “I won!”
Becker said the shy winner also told officials of his “unique method of play for every ticket he buys.” He first scratches the numbers to verify whether he has a match. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t even scratch off the prize value, she said.
“In this case, he had a matching number 28,” Becker said. “So, he knew he won something but didn’t know right away just how much. Only then did he scratch the prize value — a whopping $5 million.”
Stokely told officials he didn’t consider himself superstitious.
“It’s just a funny thing to do,” he said. “There’s no logic behind it. That’s how I play all of them. It’s just a quirky way that adds suspense.”
He added: “It just happened to be my lucky day.”
Winning ticket provides a windfall for Cambria store owners
It was a lucky day for the Cambria General Store, too.
Becker said the general store will get a $25,000 bonus for selling the lucky ticket.
Benan Akkare has co-owned the store with Elia Akhri since Aug. 1. Since then, they’ve been updating the old structure, which needs some love. The business is believed to be the longest continuously operating service station in San Luis Obispo County.
“Cambria deserves better,” Akkare said Monday.
The lottery bonus “will come in handy, but it’s probably a small chunk” of what it’s costing the partners to upgrade the old structure, he said.
“We’re adding an indoor bathroom, two new gas pumps that will take credit cards, fixed the canopy to make it nicer, fixed the parking lot, put in new flooring and new counters and added more shelving for liquor and wine,” he said. “We’re also working on getting more groceries in.”
The man who sold the mega-winning ticket, store manager Sean Farhoud, said Monday he doesn’t expect to get any bonus for making the sale.