A San Francisco woman who got a $20 scratcher for her birthday ended up with a way bigger gift, as the card ended up being worth $2 million.
According to a press release from the California Lottery, 29-year-old SF woman Bich Ha received the game identified as a "California Lottery Crossword Deluxe Scratchers®!", as a birthday gift from her dad, who bought the $20 card at Tenderloin standby Woerner’s Liquors.
As she scratched off the card with her dad, it was her father who realized fortune had struck. According to Ha, “He said, ‘[You] won a lot of money!’” She called her husband and told him to come home from work. He assumed the worst.
“I thought something bad happened,” Ha's husband Calvin Yee said, according to the press release. “I rushed over there.”
Ha already has a plan for the winnings, saying “I really want to get a place for my parents. I definitely want to get them a house, preferably in the City.” It's only after her parents are taken care of that Ha says her husband and she will try to buy a place of their own.
Though I don't want to rain on Ha's good times — and good times they definitely are, as some money is better than none at all — it's worth nothing that $2 million in lottery winnings will have to be spread pretty thin to afford two places in San Francisco.
According to the California Lottery Winner's Handbook, winnings by CA residents are exempt from state and local income taxes. However, there's still the federal to deal with! If provided with a winner's Social Security Number, the CA Lottery will deduct 25 percent of the winnings before the funds are disbursed, sending that straight to the feds. (No Social and that goes up to 28 percent, and those who don't disclose citizenship status hand over 30.)
But that percent isn't the only time you'll pay taxes on your winnings, as "Federal tax rates are subject to change and there may be an additional tax liability depending on a winner’s total financial situation." So, depending on the tax bracket a win moves you into, you might end up having to pay even more next April.
And then there's the CA Lottery's own payment system to deal with: According to the CA Lottery, Scratchers games that exceed a certain award (like Ha's) are only paid out in "graduated installments." If a winner chooses to cash out all at once, they'll only receive "a designated percentage of the annuity prize." The number of installments and cash payout percentage for a particular game is detailed on the back of that game's ticket.
So, in an absolute best-case scenario, Ha will get $1.5 million, paid out in as many as 30 installments. Will that be enough to buy two homes in San Francisco's current housing bubble? Maybe not, but it's probably still not a bad start.