‘We’ve won, we’ve won $900 million... oh no... wait’

Restaurant syndicate discovers lotto blunder after double checking numbers

Workers at a New Jersey restaurant celebrate winning $949 million (€877m) in the US Powerball, only to later discover that they were not the lucky winners. Video: Grissini Restaurant


Pandemonium erupted at an Italian restaurant in New Jersey last Saturday when staff believed for a brief period they had won the US Powerball jackpot, making them instant millionaires.

In what may be a highly elaborate publicity stunt by the Grissini Risorante, a video was posted on YouTube over the weekend showing the moment the restaurant’s staff were told they had won the jackpot prize of $949 million (€877 million).

The syndicate of 42 staff members listened with baited breath as a colleague read out the Powerball numbers, letting out shrieks of joy as they matched the figures.

“Emotions were flying high as bartender Charlie Poveromo in sheer excitement shed tears of joy,” the restaurant wrote in a post on Facebook. “...the dishwasher threw his apron on the floor and quit and the parking lot attendant Deiago Moreno called his Grandmother in Colombia to share the good news after he told a customer to retrieve his own car as he just won the lottery.”

“All the numbers matched our tickets,” Mr Poveromo, who has worked as a bartender at the restaurant for 12 years, told the NY Post. “Then pandemonium hit. There was just so much joy, and I can’t put into words the feelings of euphoria that we all felt.”

The celebrations came to an abrupt end when Mr Poveromo rang his wife to double check the winning numbers. He discovered they had read out the numbers for the wrong day, reports the NY Post. Unfortunately the website had not been updated and was still showing the winning combination from the previous week.

“It was like getting punched in the stomach,” said Mr Poveromo. “When we found out it was like a balloon deflating,”

The restaurant dishwasher who had reportedly threatened to quit put his apron back on and said “back to work”.

Despite the huge disappointment of missing out on millions of dollars, Mr Poveromo says he’s still reeling in the excitement that filled the restaurant last weekend.

“For 20 minutes it was real,” he told the NY Post. “It’s a shame we didn’t win, but I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything.”

The restaurant later posted a photo of the Powerball ticket on Facebook with the caption ‘Here is the ticket - a perfect match to Wednesday, January 6th.’

This week’s Powerball Jackpot is now a record $1.5 billion (€1.38 billion).