It was just an ordinary day for Mercedes when she discovered she had won the €1.27 million lottery jackpot. She used to stand, every day, starting at 9 am, on a street corner in Alicante and beg for money, clothes, and food.
But one day, after the long hours on the street, Mercedes headed to the tobacco shop where she bought her lottery tickets every day.
"I think the numbers on the TV are the same as the ones on my ticket," she told store owner Mari Ángeles Torregrosa.
A few days later, with the jackpot safely deposited in the bank, Mercedes told Torregrosa: "I’ve been crying non-stop… I’ve never cried from joy before."
From Beggar To Millionaire
Life was not easy for Mercedes. She lives with her partner and five children in a quiet, working-class neighborhood sandwiched between Madrid’s old highway, train tracks, and the city’s cemetery according to El Pais. The modest houses are dotted with satellite dishes and all the blinds are drawn to keep out the heat.
According to Mari Ángeles Torregrosa, the owner of the store that sold her the winning lottery ticket, for years she had asked for money on the streets.
Torregrosa and her husband, who occasionally brought her their old clothes, described her as a small, dark-haired woman who was "very kind and polite". They said Mercedes continues to come to the same places she used to beg, enjoying congratulations from those who know her.
"The first thing she did was buy a pair of inexpensive shoes to wear around the house," Torregrosa recalls. "She came over and showed them to me, saying, ‘You’ve changed my life as we hugged‘."
When Torregrosa and her husband were told they had sold the winning ticket, they waited until the next morning for the lucky winner to come into the store.
Torregrosa said: "We turned Mercedes off because she was begging in her usual spot next to the bank." Before heading home, Mercedes stopped to reveal that she is the one who won the lottery jackpot, and the mystery was solved...