A woman threw out a $1 million lottery ticket. These honest store owners returned it to her.

When the owners of the Lucky Stop convenience store in Southwick, Massachusetts discovered a $1 million winning lottery ticket in a stack of discarded tickets, they could have kept it for themselves or given it to a friend or family member. Instead, they returned it to the woman who had bought it and accidentally tossed it aside—an act of integrity and honesty that both heartwarming and inspiring.

Lea Fiega bought a $30 Diamond Millions scratch-off ticket at the end of March, but she didn't scratch the ticket fully. If she had, she would have noticed two matching numbers that indicated she had won $1 million.

"I was in a hurry, on lunch break, and just scratched it real quick, and looked at it, and it didn't look like a winner, so I handed it over to them to throw away," she told the Associated Press according to WACH News.

The ticket sat in a wastebasket of discarded tickets for 10 days, until the store owners looked through them before permanently throwing them away.


"One evening, I was going through the tickets from the trash and found out that she didn't scratch the number," Abhi Shah, the son of the store owners told WWLP-TV. "I scratched the number and it was $1 million underneath the ticket."

"I was a millionaire for a night," Shah told CBS News. He began thinking of all the things he could do with the money.

But the family consulted together the next morning, even calling Shah's grandparents in India for their input. Fiega was a regular customer at the store, and the Shahs knew that the ticket had belonged to her. They also knew that she obviously hadn't meant to throw away a million dollars.

Shah told CBS News that his grandmother said, 'Let's not keep the ticket. It's not right. Just give it back to them. If it's in your luck, you will get it anyhow.'"

So that's what they did. And boy was Fiega surprised when Abhi Shah showed up at her workplace.

"He came to my office and said 'my mom and dad would like to see you,'" Fiega told WACH News. "I said 'I'm working,' and he said 'no you have to come over.' So I went over there and that's when they told me. I was in total disbelief. I cried, I hugged them."

Million-dollar lottery ticket returned to winner who mistakenly discarded it www.youtube.com

Fiega had already felt incredibly lucky after she nearly died earlier this year after contracting COVID-19. Getting the news from her local convenience store that she had accidentally thrown away a million dollars and that the owners were returning it to her was nearly unbelievable.

"I mean, who does that? They're great people. I am beyond blessed," she said.

Fiega told WACH that she gave the family part of her winnings and that she's saving the rest for retirement. The store owners also receive $10,000 from the state lottery commission for selling the winning ticket.

Other regular customers told CBS News that they were not surprised by the Shahs' kindness and selflessness in returning the winning ticket.

"They're just purely good people," one customer said. "You can tell just by talking to them."

Thank you, Shah family, for serving as an example of doing the right thing even when you don't have to, and for giving us all a boost of faith in humanity.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Screenshots via @castrowas95/Twitter

In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

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