With the Powerball jackpot back up to $550 million, here's a story you might find inspiring: For some time now, Richard Cerezo, of Geneva, Illinois, has stored 11 old Lotto tickets in a cookie jar for safe keeping. Earlier this month, on his wife's suggestion, he took the tickets to a local convenience store.
"I thought I had probably won about $600," Cerezo told the Patch.
It turns out it he had underestimated his winnings by just a bit. Cerezo had won the February 2 Lotto jackpot. His prize? $4.85 million.
He collected the check on Wednesday.
"I'm awestruck, this is unbelievable," he said.
"When I realized we had all six numbers, it was that shocking moment of 'Whoa, can this really be?' So I called my son over and asked him to double check this," Cerezo told Chicago's WGN-TV. "And he looked it through and goes, 'Yep, looks like a winner.'"
Cerezo and his wife plan to use the winnings to pay off their mortgage and other bills and to help out their son and daughter. They also have plans to donate to their church and favorite charities. "It is very important to us that we help others with this money," Cerezo said.
The lesson? Always keep your lotto tickets in a cookie jar for months at the time, though it remains to be seen if that tactic will protect Cerezo from the various tragedies and lawsuits that have afflicted other recent lottery winners.