When you leave a winning lottery ticket on the counter of a convenience store, it's fair game, right?
Luckily for one lottery winner in Kansas, not everyone thinks that way — like the store employees who sought out the owner of a $1 million ticket to return it.
"Good deeds come back to help you, and bad deeds come back to haunt you," Kal Patel, the store clerk who returned the ticket, told the Salina Journal. "It felt good to find it and then find them."
A $1 million good deed
On March 18, a regular customer of the Pit Stop convenience store in Salina, Kansas, stopped by to check to see if any of the three tickets he had purchased in Lincoln were winners.
After finding out that the first two weren't winners, the male customer, who has requested to remain anonymous, left the tickets on the counter when he left the store. Andy Patel, no relation to Kal, noticed the third ticket in the stack and checked it. Naturally, it was the winning ticket, and the screen flashed a one and six zeroes.
Andy immediately called Kal, the son of the store's owners, in an effort to figure out their next steps.
"[Andy] said six zeroes were popping up on the screen," said Kal. "We couldn't believe it."
Andy described the man to Kal, and Kal realized he was one of the store's regulars. He got into his car and began to search for the man.
"I went into the neighborhood where I knew he lived, but I couldn't find him," he said. "Their cars weren't outside or anything, and I couldn't find their house, exactly which one it was."
Kal returned to the store, expecting that he'd just give the ticket to the customer the next day. Perhaps the invisible hand of fate poked him, and Kal decided to do one more drive around the man's neighborhood to be sure. He spotted the customer and his brother leaving the neighborhood and followed them. Eventually, Kal was able to give them the ticket and tell them they were $1 million richer.
"I showed them the ticket and told them they were winners. They started shaking. They couldn't believe it at all."
Since giving him the ticket back in March, Kal has only seen the customer once, when he stopped in for a soda.
Kal has no regrets about returning what would have been a life-changing ticket.
"If it had just been dropped and we didn't know whose it was, then we wouldn't have known where to look," he said. "But we did. It felt good to give it to them. And the praise we got back from everyone for doing this was really nice. They said it restored their faith in humanity."
Kal did get a bit of monetary compensation for his good turn, however. According to KWCH, the Wichita-based law firm DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers presented Kal with a check for $1,200 to honor his integrity and ethical behavior.