Rae Bernard has had quite a ride. He got cheated out of a winning lottery ticket, then nobody believed him when he said he had won - and then lost - $6.8 million.
Now he’s trying to get used to being a millionaire.
More than three months after his numbers came up, he picked up a check Friday for $231,073.95, the first of 20 payments.
On May 8, Bernard walked into the a deli in Arlington and played his regular numbers: five, six, 23, 24, 38 and 41. Two days later, his numbers came up.
When he went back to the deli to check his tickets, deli owner Jaspaul Narang pocketed the winner and told Bernard he had won a free play.
But several days later, the Greenbelt, Md., resident saw a sign announcing that a winning ticket had been sold at the deli. He checked the numbers and confronted Narang after realizing he had been tricked.
“At first I thought it was a mistake,” he said Friday, after picking up his first check. “When I found out it was a deliberate act I felt stupid.”
His family assumed he was joking when he told them what happened.
“Nobody paid me any mind,” he said. “It took them a while to actually believe me.”
Bernard took his case to lottery officials, who investigated and had Narang arrested and charged with grand larceny.
Narang’s lawyer at first claimed Narang found the winning ticket on the floor after Bernard discarded it. But he pleaded guilty Aug. 14 and faces up to 20 years in prison.