Carmel Valley man wins $1 million at Del Mar store

By Kristina Houck

Carmel Valley resident Craig Misewicz is on a lucky streak.

His streak began when he purchased several small scratch-off tickets in late January, winning a total of $1,283. His lucky streak continued when he purchased a California Gold Scratchers ticket Jan. 29 at Del Mar Wine Company, which is where he works. It was also a winner.

“Every day I come in and look at the tickets,” said Misewicz, who has worked at the store for about two years. “Sometimes it’s the numbers; sometimes it’s how I feel. When I touched the ticket, it was burning hot. I said, ‘This is the lucky ticket today.’”

At first, Misewicz thought he had won $1,000. He didn’t have his glasses on. Then he looked more closely at the claim ticket and noticed the extra zeros. He won $1 million.

“I put the ticket away. I mopped, I vacuumed, I closed the store and waited for my ride,” said 53-year-old Misewicz. “I was relatively calm because I’ve seen money like that before.”

A native of Chicago who later moved to Orange County, Misewicz worked as an executive in the mattress industry for about 25 years. Now living with a disability, he has kept a strict budget the last several years.

“I’ve done the crazy rent the house in Monsaraz, flying a whole plane of people to Vegas for a vacation,” he said. “But the last five years I’ve lived frugally. For me, this is like a billion dollars.”

Like other lottery winners, Misewicz does not have plans to purchase a new car or home. Instead, he plans to continue working and use an unspecified portion of his winnings to help others.

“I’ve always been a give it, pay-it-forward type of person,” said Misewicz, who noted he established scholarships at his elementary and high school in Illinois — Kelvin Grove Elementary School and Lockport Township High School — years ago.

From singing in nursing homes as a middle schooler to buying people televisions on Black Friday the last two years, Misewicz said he enjoys doing “random acts of kindness.” In fact, the day after he purchased the $1 million winning ticket, he said he bought drinks for the Starbucks customers standing in line behind him.

“The feeling you get from helping somebody who has no idea who you are or why you did it — it’s awesome,” said Monsaraz, who will get paid in one lump sum in March. “There’s way more thrill for me in giving than receiving. It doesn’t have to be anything big.”

Is his lucky streak over? Misewicz doesn’t think so. While recently out of state for a wedding, he purchased Powerball tickets in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.

“I have tickets in my pocket right now,” Misewicz said with a smile.