Massoud Ardala has been out of work since last November. He had $15 in his pocket when he stopped at the Heather Farm Shell station for $10 worth of gas. He considered buying a pack of pumpkin seeds but bought a lottery ticket, instead. The decision changed his life.
A friend told Ardala that the news stations were talking about a Walnut Creek man who had purchased a winning, $33 million ticket, and that he should check his to see if fate was smiling. As luck would have it, it was, and Massoud and wife Homeira picked up a rather large check Friday at lottery headquarters in Sacramento.
The Walnut Creek residents claimed a $22.9 million lump-sum prize. Owners of the gas station at 1790 Ygnacio Valley Road get a tidy $165,000 as their share of the pot.
Ardala’s good fortune comes five months after the reprographics company he’d worked at for 16 years laid him off. After Friday’s photo session, Homeira went quietly back to work at the downtown Walnut Creek salon where she works as a hairdresser.
For the oddsmakers among you, Ardala’s chances of hitting the magic sequence of randomly chosen numbers – 1, 2, 3, 22, 34 and the Mega number 8 – were about 1 in 42 million.
Reporters asked the usual question: “What are you going to do with the money?”
Walnut Creek’s latest multimillionaire answered that he would like to start his own business, possibly in reprographics (and that company that laid him off better watch its back), then it was getting friends and family who are without work back on the job – and maybe a salon for his wife to call her own.
“We can buy a lot of pumpkin seeds,” Ardala added after some thought. “Maybe a pumpkin seed factory.”