Thursday, May 06, 2010

KNBC-TV Employee Wins the Mega Millions Jackpot

Here's the ultimate get-out-of-the-dying-journalism-industry card: KNBC news employee Jacki Wells Cisneros and husband Gilbert were the lone winners Tuesday in the Mega-Millions lottery.

That means they won an estimated $266 million jackpot (after taxes, they'll be able to get a lump sum of about half that. $133 million -- not too shabby.)

The couple got their ticket at an L&L Hawaiian BBQ restaurant. Damn. I knew I should be eating at L&L more often.

KNBC obviously was the first with the story:

BBQ and lottery tickets -- a great combination. The numbers in Tuesday night's multi-state Mega Millions draw -- 9, 21, 31, 36, 43 and the Mega number 8 -- matched one of the 10 tickets purchased by Cisneros at the restaurant.

A minor dispute over dinner led Gilbert to the winning ticket. His wife, long-time NBCLA television newswoman Jacki Wells Cisneros, wanted KFC. But Gilbert was in the mood for Mexican food from Olvera Street.

"But then she said chicken, and I remember having chicken at a Hawaiian BBQ before and thought, 'You know, that sounds pretty good,'" Gilbert said, making the most important dinner decision of his life.

It was hours later when they discovered they hit the Mega Millions.

Jacki was working her overnight shift at NBCLA when a news bulletin said the winning ticket had been purchased in Pico Rivera at L&L Barbacue. News producer Jeff Evans remembered Jacki was from Pico Rivera and handed her the advisory.

She woke Gilbert up at home and demanded he retrieve his L&L lottery tickets.

"He was reading the fourth and the fifth number and all of a sudden he said, 'I think we won,'" Jacki said. "My hand was shaking the phone, I went to hang up the phone and I was shaking, and my legs felt like they were going to buckle. I just screamed and cried, and laughed."

Gilbert told Jacki, "It's two in the morning. I told her to calm down calm down. I told her to stop yelling, we want to be anonymous, I don't want anyone to know, but so much for that."

Jacki finished the remaining hours on her shift and left for home at her normal off time of 8 a.m.

The couple said they picked the numbers at random. The couple also said that Gilbert recently lost his job.

Jacki Wells? Jeff Zucker on line two.

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