St. Clair Shores woman shares lucky lottery tale

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 18, 2020

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Earnestine Mason heads to Joseph’s Party Shop once or twice a week to play the lottery.

“It all depends if I’ve got a hunch,” she said.

She moved to St. Clair Shores three years ago, but has been playing some of the same numbers for about 25 years. So when she heard the winning numbers for the Daily 3 and Daily 4 the evening of Sept. 4, she couldn’t believe her luck — she had won something on both drawings.

“A few minutes later, I went to look for them in my purse. They weren’t there. I thought maybe they had fell out in the car. They weren’t in the car. I even looked in the garbage, piece by piece ... because by then, I’m panicking. I found some other numbers I had played the day before and I said, ‘Maybe I played them yesterday,’ because I have senior moments,” she explained.

But the face of Sam Najor at Joseph’s Party Shop, 29108 Harper Ave., kept popping into her head. She distinctly remembered discussing with him that day that she had also played a number she doesn’t usually play.

“I was in a panic,” she said. “It’s not a lot of money, but you win, you want your money.”

So Mason called her granddaughter, who encouraged her “Nana” to retrace her steps.

“The only place I could think of was the store,” Mason said.

Najor, who said the store is owned by his family, recalled that a regular customer of his had come into the store earlier that day and pointed out a few tickets that were sitting on the counter. Najor said people often check their tickets and then just leave the non-winning tickets at the store, so he thought that’s what they were.

“I said, ‘Why don’t you look at them, see what the date is?’ She said, they are for today,” he said.

Thinking someone might come looking for the tickets, he stapled them together and set them aside, then promptly forgot about them. It wasn’t until Mason came back into the store that he recalled the incident.

“When I got to the store, it was 8:15. The lottery had been out 45 minutes,” Mason said.

Najor told her some tickets had been found and she told him what numbers were on her tickets and it was a match.

“He handed them to me without hesitation. That’s not something you find every day. I was more grateful for the gesture of him giving me what was rightfully mine,” she said.

She said she’s heard of clerks telling ticket holders they didn’t have a winning ticket when they did and other horror stories of dishonesty, so she was just pleased with Najor’s actions.

“I just wanted to give him some kudos for doing the right thing and being honorable,” she said. “The whole family, I think, are very nice people.”

Najor said he was more surprised by the fact that Mason won the Daily 3 and the Daily 4 on the same day.

“It doesn’t usually happen,” he said. “She was happy and I was glad that she got them.”

He said his regular customer that noticed the tickets was the real hero.

“Anybody could have picked them up and walked away,” he said.

Mason won a total of $249 that day.

“I didn’t have any doubt that I would get my money from him,” she said.

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