California man credits Virgin Mary with $1.2M lottery win

By Ben Hooper
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SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 7 (UPI) -- An 86-year-old California man said the Virgin Mary may have had something to do with his $696,000 California Lottery jackpot.

Daniel Mendez of San Jose told California Lottery officials he has been watering the flowers his wife planted around the Virgin Mary statue at Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church "every four or five days" since last year, and he always follows up the tradition by purchasing $4 worth of lottery scratch-off tickets.


Mendez's routine paid off recently when one of his two Set for Life Scratchers turned out to be a winner for the top prize of $1.2 million.

Mendez, who opted for the $696,000 lump sum option, said the Virgin Mary might have had a hand in his win, but he made it a point not to ask her for help in the lottery.

"I don't ask the Virgin to pay me with [lottery] money. I ask that she pays me with taking care of my grandkids," Mendez esaid. "That's more valuable than money to me -- but I really do need a new roof on my house!"

Mendez said he also hopes to spend some of his windfall on landscaping for the church.


Lottery officials said the San Jose CVS Pharmacy location where Mendez bought his ticket was awarded a $6,000 commission for the sale.

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