'I wish it was me': Novi Kroger shoppers react to $1B lottery ticket bought there

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Novi — Shoppers outside the Novi Kroger where the winning ticket for the estimated $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot was sold were surprised to learn Saturday morning history was made just a few feet away.

The jackpot is the second-largest jackpot in Mega Millions lottery history and the third-largest in U.S. history, lottery officials said early Saturday.

Char Litvin of Farmington Hills was unloading groceries into the back of her car outside the grocery on Grand River Avenue on Saturday morning when she learned the winning ticket was purchased inside

"I wish it was me or a family member, but no," Litvin said, smiling. "It is what it is."

Char Litvin of Farmington Hills finishes her shopping at the Kroger at 47650 Grand River Ave. in Novi, Mich on Jan. 23, 2021. (Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News)

"No way!" said Ryan Gabrielli of Novi about the winning ticket sold there.

"We meant to play the lottery but forgot to," Gabrielli said, pointing to his 1-year-old son, Andrew, sitting in the front of the loaded grocery cart dressed in a snowsuit for the winter chill.

"That is pretty crazy, it could be someone from the community. ... I am very happy for the guy or woman or whoever won it," Gabrielli said as he put canned food into his trunk.

Ryan Gabrielli of Novi loads his car with groceries after shopping with his son, Andrew, 1, at the Kroger at 47650 Grand River Ave. in Novi, Mich on Jan. 23, 2021. (Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News)

The winning numbers in the Mega Millions drawing were: 4, 26, 42, 50, 60 and a Mega Ball of 24.

The Mega Millions top prize has been growing since Sept. 15, when a winning ticket was sold in Wisconsin. Michigan's last winning ticket was a shared jackpot won in 2017.

The jackpot figures refer to amounts if a winner opts for an annuity, paid in 30 annual installments. Most winners choose a cash prize, which for Mega Millions would be $739.6 million.

The odds of winning a Mega Millions jackpot are one in 302.5 million.

Fred Neal of Novi loads his car with groceries at the Kroger at 47650 Grand River Ave. in Novi on Jan. 23, 2021.

Kroger shopper Fred Neal said he is glad for the person who won and wishes them the best in attempting to manage such a fortune.

"We should have more winners for less prizes," said Neal of Novi, who said he was an occasional lottery player. "That would have more of an effect on our community."

Until Friday night's big win, the largest Lottery prize ever won by a Michigan player was a $337 million Powerball jackpot. Donald Lawson, of Lapeer, won that jackpot on Aug. 15, 2012.

The largest Mega Millions prize ever won in the state was won on April 22, 2005. A Port Huron couple, Ralph and Mary Stebbins, won $208 million playing Mega Millions.

The last Michigan player to win a Mega Millions jackpot was Kevin Blake, of Waterford Township. Blake won half of the game's $42 million jackpot in October 2017. The other winning ticket was purchased in Rhode Island.

Mega Millions is played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.