Nicholas Ruth's lottery ticket held the winning numbers for a Mega Millions second-tier prize — $250,000 — and he didn't even know it.
The Towson resident bought a ticket was at 7-Eleven, on Loch Raven Boulevard, and didn't check his numbers until late Saturday night. Even then, he wasn't sure.
"I checked it about eight times before I realized all the numbers matched," Ruth said. "My mom checked it another 15 times. We got all excited and started jumping up and down."
He then called his brother at 1:30 a.m.
The Archbishop Curley High graduate started buying lottery tickets every Tuesday and Friday when he turned 18. Winning was never a possibility, he thought, but it was the idea that kept him hooked.
"When I played, I never actually thought I could win," Ruth admitted. "Just the idea of thinking I could…made it fun."
When Ruth was in sixth grade, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He's been in remission for seven years, and now said he wants to share his good fortune with those who have helped him wage that battle.
"As a cancer survivor, it is really important for me to give back," he said. "I want to 'pay forward' what some wonderful local organizations did for me, so I am definitely going to donate money to cancer organizations."
He told lottery officials he also plans to pay off his car and put money in the bank.
"I'll save up and buy something later down the road," Ruth said.
While the 19-year-old graduate of Archbishop Curley High School is excited about his newfound wealth, he is still awaiting word about a law-enforcement position for which he recently applied.
"I believe that things happen in threes — I won this huge amount of money; the Ravens won last night; and I'm hoping I'll get this job. That would really be icing on the cake."
In the meantime, the dishwasher and barback isn't planning on taking time off from his current minimum-wage job.
"We love to see winners like Nick come walking through our doors," said Lottery Communications Director Carole Everett, in an email. "He is an inspiring young man and we are very happy for him."
Attending the Ravens game on Sunday topped off Ruth's winning weekend.
"It was one for the books," Ruth said.
Another $250,000 still out there
Lottery officials said Ruth's ticket is not the missing second-tier winner that they've been looking for from last March's Mega Millions drawing.
That ticket was purchased at a 7-Eleven in Timonium, and the holder only has until this Friday, Sept. 28, at 4:30 p.m. to cash it in before it becomes worthless.
That drawing was the Mega Millions prize that resulted in a split of part of the jackpot between three people in Maryland who came to be known as the "Three Amigos." They shared their portion of the prize — each getting about $218.6 million.
If you think you have the missing ticket, call the lottery at 410-230-8800.