Talk about lucky! Hubert Tang, a Bay Area bartender at the San Francisco International Airport, walked outside after work and found a $20 bill on the sidewalk, so he decided to have some harmless fun and purchase a couple scratch-off lottery tickets at the corner store nearby — because why not? There’s nothing to lose, he figured.
And then he realized he had just won $1 million.
Tang told local news outlets that after he found the $20 bill, he bought two $1 million Jackpot! Scratchers tickets from the California State Lottery when he stopped by Andrea’s Market in San Mateo County. He scratched off both tickets and realized immediately that he had just been very lucky.
“I scratched the ticket outside of the store,” Tang said. “I told my friend who I was with that I didn’t know if it was real but, ‘I think I just won a million dollars.’”
According to USA Today and CNN, Tang hadn’t purchased a single lotto ticket in at least 10 years. Although he’s not an avid gambler, Tang decided that it wouldn’t be too much of a loss if he didn’t win any of the money back.
He stated that he currently doesn’t have any plans for the money, beyond having a celebratory dinner and purchasing “a new car or something” for his mother.
“Maybe I’ll start leaving $20 bills on the street in random places,” he added. The rest of the money, he told the California Lottery, would probably go straight into a savings account.
As Forbes noted, however, most lottery winners end up facing an amalgam of financial problems after finding that winning ticket. For Tang, he won’t actually be taking home $1 million; before any of it reaches his bank account, he’ll pay a 39.6% federal tax and a 13.3% state tax on the winnings.
Should Tang decide to share any of the winnings with friends or family — maybe he’ll go with that new car for Mom –those recipients will have to pay income tax on their gifts and Tang will also be required to pay up; even if Tang were to donate his entire lottery lump sum to a charity, he would only be able to write off 50% of that donated amount (and no one’s mother wants to be considered a charity case, let’s be honest here).
Additionally, because Tang’s case has become so high-profile, the IRS is likely paying close attention to just how much money he brings in. Even that $20 he found on the street, Forbes stated, is seen as “income” in the eyes of the IRS and is therefore taxable.
Ultimately, Tang’s winning ticket might seem like a convenient quick cash option, but it’s more likely to cost him money in the long run.