LISBON FALLS – Since Wednesday, Kitty Korner Store owners Tina and Neal Buiniskas have heard the same questions over and over. Do you know who won the big prize? Do you get a cut of the winnings?

The answer to the first question Friday was, no. They have no idea who won the $4.2 million Megabucks jackpot. An official at the Maine Lottery Commission said a person had verified the winning ticket, but that person hasn’t been identified.

Although the winner remains a mystery Friday, the store was a beehive of activity. Regular customers came in for beer, food and lottery tickets. New customers wandered in to try their luck at the store as a Saturday $215 million Powerball jackpot loomed.

“Now, can you imagine winning that much money?” wondered Darla George, a regular customer at the Kitty Korner.

George and other regulars had one common opinion this week. The chances of winning gobs of money is always a wondrous thing. But they come to the Kitty Korner, they said, because they like it there.

“It’s the only place we buy our lottery tickets. If we went somewhere else, it would feel like we’re cheating on them,” said George, who has been shopping at the Kitty Korner for 25 years. “I don’t know if it’s a lucky store or not, but we don’t go anywhere else.”

The Buiniskases do get a cut of the jackpot: $30,000, in fact.

“We shared it with the employees today,” Tina Buiniskas said. “We gave a little bit to everybody.”

Not bad for a mom-and-pop business that employs 24 people.

Meanwhile, the late-afternoon rush at the Kitty Korner Friday went on and on. Some people bought Megabucks or Powerball tickets, some did not. Most of them asked about the winner or made passing comments.

“They have cold beer,” said 50-year-old Mark Haggerty. “That’s why I come here.”

Haggerty made his purchases, passed a few comments with store employees and then paused to answer questions about the lotteries – the Megabucks jackpot that perhaps had been snagged by some lucky local, and the bigger one that remained up for grabs.

“I know I didn’t win the $4.2 million,” he said. “Maybe the Powerball, who knows?”

One customer wondered – purely hypothetically, of course – what would happen if no one stepped forward to claim the money.

“Easy,” said store manager Adam MacFarland. “They give it to me automatically.”

A nice thought, but the lottery doesn’t work that way. Rich Sperlazzi, marketing manager at the Maine Lottery Commission, says the winners have five working days, after verifying that they have the winning ticket, to claim the winnings. The commission gives them that time to seek financial advice about how to claim the winnings: as a trust, in their own names or in a spouse’s name, for example.

They have 60 days after verification to decide whether to take the cash or a 20-year annuity. The ticket was verified Thursday, Oct. 7, so the winner will be announced next Thursday, Sperlazzi said.

At the Kitty Korner Store, it was hard to maintain business as usual with the buzz about the lottery winner.

“We’ve seen a lot more action since yesterday,” Buiniskas said Friday afternoon. “We’ve seen a lot of new faces in here. It’s been busy.”

Store employees were still making sandwiches and baking pizzas as the late-afternoon rush continued. Customers stopped and chatted. They would continue shopping here even if there were no lottery, they said. Money is one thing. A friendly environment is another.

“It’s a nice store,” Haggerty said. “It’s a good place to shop, and they’re good people. I have no complaints.”

“It’s the atmosphere,” said George. “They are a friendly bunch of people. Wonderful people. It’s the place to go.”


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