For three days, employees of the Kelley Williamson Mobil station that sold Saturday's winning $14.3 million Megabucks ticket wondered who the lucky buyer was.
They hoped it was a regular customer, like Napolean Elvord, an ailing veteran in need of a kidney transplant who comes in several times a day to get what he calls "one of the best coffees in Madison" — and most days, to buy lottery tickets.
"I asked him the next day, 'Were you the big winner?'" said Paul Muchie, 29, of Madison, who sold the winning ticket at the store at 3859 E. Washington Ave. on the Far East Side.
Elvord said it wasn't him, but as days passed with no one coming forward to claim the millions, manager Corky Wunderlin asked again.
"He thought it was Wednesday's drawing" that had the multimillion winner, Wunderlin said.
Elvord said he found his ticket from Saturday's drawing on a table at his home.
"A couple people gave me the numbers," he said, but when he compared them with his ticket, "It didn't mean anything."
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So Elvord, who said he'll turn "60 in a couple years," took his ticket to the Wisconsin Lottery office to see if he was the winner. "The first thing they asked me was, 'Did you make up the ticket?'"
Most people who come in already know they have a winning ticket, explained Michael Edmonds, the lottery's director.
What went through his head when he realized he had won millions?
"It's still going through my head," said Elvord, who opted for a $10.2 million lump sum payment, giving him $6.87 million after taxes.
A first priority is taking care of health insurance, said Elvord, who has been receiving dialysis for five years. He also plans to return to the warmer climate of his native Texas.
Elvord said he had let another customer go ahead of him before Muchie printed out his winning Megabucks ticket with computer-generated numbers. "I think it was a mistake because I was trying to play the Powerball."