A Real Head-Scratcher: Cal’s, a Lottery Powerhouse, Has Never Sold a $1 Million Ticket

Cal’s News, where people go for their newspapers, lottery tickets, and friendly interactions with its personable owner Barry Calvani on a daily basis, has been in business since 1937.

While you can still buy virtually every news, sports, or hobby magazine at Cal’s, one thing the legendary Lynn store has never sold: a $1 million Instant Ticket winner in the Massachusetts State Lottery.

Still Waiting: Barry Calvani, owner of Cal’s News, is hoping to sell the store’s first Mass Lottery $1 million Instant ticket Winner in its history

The Mass Lottery was launched in 1972. Instant Tickets or Instant Games began in 1974. Today, there are Instant Tickets (“scratch” tickets) ranging in price from $1 to $30.

Cal’s is among the busiest lottery outlets in Lynn and on the entire North Shore. Paul Calvani (Barry’s father) was one of the original six lottery ticket agents in the state. Millions of tickets have been sold at the store that opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m.

Barry Calvani is a graduate of St. John’s Prep and Merrimack College, where he received a degree in Business Management. Barry and his wife, Christine, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on Sept. 9, have two daughters, Breanna, a senior marketing major at St. John’s University, and Caitlin, a sophomore at Fairfield University who is studying to be a nurse.

“A Statistical Anomaly”

Calvani understands statistics and odds very well. He calls it “a statistical anomaly” that no one has won on a $1 million ticket at his store.

“No one has ever hit on an Instant Ticket for $1 million,” said Calvani. “Customers say to me, ‘Barry, I’m doing this for you. I want to see you celebrate a $1 million ticket. I want to be the first.’’’

Calvani said his store has told two $5 Instant Ticket winners for prizes of $200,000 apiece. “We also did have a Mass Cash winner that hit 15 times [for $1.5 million] on one drawing which is a record to this day,” he added.

Beyond its status as an “original six” lottery agent, Cal’s was also instrumental in shaping customer service among lottery players.

“[The state’s first Mass Lottery Director] Jim Hosker would come down here and sit on a stool and just listen to people talk about the Lottery and ask people questions,” recalled Calvani. “Jim had a very grassroots approach to gathering information for the Lottery. He had a very simplistic approach to what people liked and didn’t like about the lottery. He was asked to help start other state lotteries. He was a very good friend of my dad’s. He was a great guy [A Lynn English graduate and veteran, Mr. Hosker died on May 19, 2020].”

Calvani said 15 years one of his building tenants [Max’s] asked him if they could install a Mass Lottery Instant Ticket machine at their business.

“I said if it helps your business, by all means,” said Calvani. “They had the machine in there for three months and they sold a million-dollar ticket out of the machine.”

With the building resurgence happening in Lynn, Calvani said is seeing many new customers in addition to the regulars who arrive at Cal’s each day for their newspapers and lottery tickets. He is proud of his store’s history and his dedicated employees.

“I want to thank my employees for standing by me during the COVID-19 times,” said Calvani. “My guys worked through all this craziness and I’m very, very thankful for them.”

So who is going to be a millionaire after purchasing an Instant Ticket at Cal’s? “I invite everybody to come on down and take a swing and see if you can make history at Cal’s,” said Barry. The odds say that Cal’s is due and the newest instant millionaire could be you.

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