Starbucks’ workers go from lattes to lotto win

The Associated Press
Wednesday October 25, 2000

LOS ANGELES — These are real Star-bucks. 

All 13 employees at a mid-city Starbucks, one of six boasting Earvin “Magic” Johnson as an investor, are winners of last weekend’s $87 million Super Lotto Plus jackpot. 

Despite their riches, manager Mary Champaine and other workers showed up before dawn to open the coffee house at La Brea Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard and serve lattes and frothy cappuccinos. 

“I’m a multimillionaire but I don’t have the money yet. I had to open the store. Starbucks has been good to me,” said Champaine, a 53-year-old widow whose husband died of cancer a year ago. 

The 13 workers will each get $6.7 million, before taxes, over 26 years, California Lottery spokeswoman Norma Minas said. 

They will each get a first check for $167,307 in three to six weeks, with annual payments increasing each year to a final $341,307 payment in the 26th year, she said. 

The retailer who sold the winning ticket, Thomas Lewis of L&E Liquor, gets $435,000. 

It was Champaine who collected $1 from each of her employees on Saturday after learning the jackpot had swelled. 

“Who wasn’t here I just went down in my purse and I found enough change, got enough to include everybody. I would hate for us to win and not everybody. We are a team here. I wanted all my team to be sharing in the winnings,” she said. 

What’s she going to do with the money? 

“Paint the house and get a new fence,” Champaine said. 

Employee Moisha Oliver, who rides a city bus to work, said she got a call Monday night from Champaine to let her they had won. She didn’t believe it. 

“I said, ’I’ll see you in the morning. If there’s cameras and lights, I’ll know we won,”’ she told reporters Tuesday staking out the Starbucks before dawn. 

Oliver said she was going to buy a house, stash college money for her kids and get a car. 

Asked how she could be so calm, she said: “I am doing toe touches and cartwheels inside. I’m trying to keep it calm, not get too crazy. I can’t do cartwheels because I have a skirt on. If I had pants on I think I’d be out there giving you a cheerleading show, jumping up and down on the tables. But I’ve got to be ladylike,” she said. 

Employee Keith Matthews was also on the job. There was no way to wipe the grin off his face. 

“I don’t know what to say. It’s the kind of news that makes you want to jump up and say hi to the guys in the shuttle,” Matthews said. 

It’s been a rough couple of years for Champaine. Besides the death of her husband, she had lost her job when a department store shut down. 

“I don’t drink coffee and I don’t know much about the culture, but Starbucks hired me and made me manager. I came to work today with only $7 in my pocket. God is wonderful,” Champaine said, adding she had no immediate plans to quit her job.