Lucky Lotto Pick Keeps Neighborhood Market Afloat

Local college student wins $8 million lottery prize.

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

When Rana Silyan Redfield received a text message at 5:46 a.m. on Sunday from her employee George Gomez that simply read “Boss,” she immediately panicked.

Highland Park Business kicks off the New Year with luck. La Tropicana team, (L-R) Patricia Reyes, Silvia Vasquez, Rana Redfield and Felicia Villa. / Negocio de Highland Park comienza el año con buena suerte. El equipo de La Tropicana presentes el pasado martes, (I-D) Patricia Reyes, Silvia Vasquez, Rana Silyan  Redfield y Felicia Villa. (Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Highland Park Business kicks off the New Year with luck. La Tropicana team, (L-R) Patricia Reyes, Silvia Vasquez, Rana Redfield and Felicia Villa. / Negocio de Highland Park comienza el año con buena suerte. El equipo de La Tropicana presentes el pasado martes, (I-D) Patricia Reyes, Silvia Vasquez, Rana Silyan Redfield y Felicia Villa. (Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo)

“I’m thinking something bad happened, the place burned down, someone robbed the place, and I’m shaking, I’m sweating…” she said recalling that Gomez then called her and told her he had heard on the morning news that a winning SuperLotto Plus ticket was purchased at La Tropicana. “I was relieved…but I still couldn’t wrap my brain around it.”

Redfield, owner of the neighborhood market for six and a half years, says she went online to check the information for herself, and by 7 a.m. received a phone call from Lotto officials confirming the information.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time, I’ll tell you that much,” she said. “It’s been a struggle to keep our doors open. The economy has taken its toll on everyone, and we’re kind of on the same boat as everyone. We had to let go of quite a few employees and something like this can definitely mean the difference between keeping open or closing.”

While one of her customers once won $47,000 on a Lotto Scratchers ticket, and a few others have won $5,000 and $1,000, it was “nothing of this magnitude, this is definitely rare,” Redfield, 33, said, adding that more lottery tickets than usual have been sold since the news broke.

On Wednesday, lotto officials confirmed that a Highland Park resident who is a part-time student at Pasadena City College and part-time employee at an auto parts store took his ticket with Saturday, Jan. 2’s winning numbers — 4, 9, 19, 24, 41 and the mega number 9 — to the regional office in Santa Fe Springs.

The winner, who wished to remain anonymous, told lottery officials he was “still partying from New Year’s” and only learned on Tuesday that he had the winning ticket. The new millionaire plans to quit his job, go to school full-time, travel the world and help others, according to a Lottery press release.

On Tuesday, Redfield told EGP her only advice to the winner is to be generous, because $8 million dollars can help a lot of people.

According to California Lottery Spokesperson Monique Blue, 25 percent of the prize money will be taken out for taxes if a social security number is provided, or 30 percent if no number is given.

A regular customer told Redfield Tuesday that her business deserved the good karma because she is so nice to everyone who shops there, and recalled that once when she was short on money, Redfield allowed her to pay the rest of her grocery bill at a later date.

La Tropicana will receive half of one percent of the jackpot, which is $40,000 before taxes are deducted, according to Blue.

Redfield says she will use the Lottery sales bonus to pay down her business credit cards that have kept her afloat during recent tough times. Her father, who now works for her, has also gambled on his daughter’s business future, putting his home up as a collateral for a business loan.

Redfield also currently receives help in the form of four local WorkSource employees who are paid through the program and not La Tropicana; they make up half of the store’s employees. Redfield has also cut her operating costs by renting out the market’s grill to neighborhood resident Felicia Villa, a former restaurant cook.

La Tropicana is not only a market; it is also a deli, grill, and ice cream and fruit bar. Redfield says she has invested approximately $300,000 in the business since she took it over, and was almost forced to close her doors several times while waiting for city approval of a business variance permit. Despite the many, now empty, storefronts on Monte Vista Street, the area is zoned for residential use. And though she had the support of Councilmember Ed Reyes, Northeast Police Capt. Bill Murphy and over a thousand local residents, Redfield said she was forced to endure a drawn out battle with the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council to get a liquor and beer license.

Besides the jackpot winner who purchased the ticket at La Tropicana, Jan. 2’s drawing also produced five other winning tickets in California that matched five of six numbers; each ticket is worth $12,957, according to lottery officials.

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January 7, 2010  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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