SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Conway's Restaurant and Lounge was hosting trivia night on Tuesday with the usual customers saddled up to the bar.
Aurora Kephart was bartending, a job she has had for four years.
"She is one of our best employees," lounge owner George Conway said. "We have a regular following of some of the nicest folks you'd ever want to meet."
A regular patron often leaves Keno tickets for Kephart in place of a cash tip.
The customer kept up the tradition Tuesday.
"I picked two, then I grabbed his pile and checked his numbers, and he didn't win," Kephart said.
"So I put in my two tickets. The first one won me $5," she said. "And then I put in the second one."
A screen showing the winning amount faces the inside of the bar.
When Kephart ran her ticket and $17,500 flashed on the screen, the customers saw the figure before she did.
"I turned it around and I automatically just went ‘Ooopp!'" she said, hand covering her mouth. "I handed it back to him and said it's your ticket, you take it back, you bought it."
The gentleman, who is adamant about remaining anonymous, had Aurora sign the back of the winning ticket, ensuring she would be the only one able to cash in at Lottery headquarters in Salem, Ore.
"They are your tickets," he reportedly said.
Aurora went to cash the ticket on the next day.
She said she forced the customer to take a portion of the money but will save most of it for the future - minus the cost of one item she has been wanting for a while.
"I just want new couches," she said. "I've been shopping for couches, and thought I'd have to wait until Christmas, so it came as perfect timing."
Courtesy: NBC News Channel, KMTR