The Washington Post

Two men threw out a $1 million lottery ticket. Now they’re suing to collect their lost winnings

A lost million-dollar lottery ticket: What are the odds? (LM Otero/AP)

The only thing that stood between Salvatore Cambria and Erik Onyango and their $1 million jackpot was the winning ticket they say they tossed in the trash.

The two friends from Suffern, N.Y., are now kicking themselves over the incident. They’re also suing the New Jersey Lottery Commission in an effort to collect what they claim are their lost winnings, the New York Daily News reported.

According to an attorney for Cambria and Onyango, the two men checked the New Jersey Lottery Web site just after the 11 p.m. drawing March 23, 2013, to see whether any of their tickets were winners. Cambria threw one of the tickets in the trash, thinking it was a loser. Now, the two friends claim that the state’s Web site listed the previous day’s drawing and that they realized their error too late.

They also say they have proof that they were the buyers of the missing million-dollar ticket: According to their attorney, Cambria and Onyango claim they purchased three tickets at the same time, and that the winning ticket’s serial number falls right between their two losing tickets, which they still have.

“It’s not as if the lottery commission or the state of New Jersey or whoever would be losing money,” attorney Edward Logan said in an interview with The Post. “There was a winning ticket that was sold and these people have proven that they’re the ones who bought it.”

The men – who live in a New York suburb that borders New Jersey – filed a claim with New Jersey Lottery as soon as they realized what happened, Logan said. When they didn’t get a response, they went looking for a lawyer.

The case is a “long shot,” Logan admitted; but at least there is some evidence bolstering their case.

“I’d like to think that New Jersey wants to do the right thing,” he said. “But you never know.”

Judith Drucker, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Lottery Commission, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Abby Phillip is a national political reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at On Twitter: @abbydphillip
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.