MUNSTER — An Illinois man is the lucky winner of a $19.5 million lottery jackpot thanks to the $2 Hoosier Lotto ticket he purchased in Munster.
The winner, identified only as Manuel M., traveled Thursday to Hoosier Lottery headquarters in Indianapolis to cash the ticket he purchased for the Sept. 7 Hoosier Lotto drawing that matched all six winning numbers.
Manuel told lottery officials he didn't realize he had the winning ticket until two days after the drawing.
He said he returned Sept. 9 to where he purchased the ticket, the Circle K Exxon station at 10 45th St. in Munster, right on the town's border with Lansing, and employees who recognized him as a regular lottery player and knew the store sold the winning ticket urged him to check his numbers.
As soon as he got home, Manuel said he scanned his ticket using the Hoosier Lottery mobile app and learned he was a multimillionaire.
"When I realized I won, I just could not believe it. I broke out into a sweat. When it started sinking in, I started calling my sisters. We got together that night. There was screaming and crying. It probably took one half day to compose ourselves before we started talking it through," he said.
Manuel, a retired chemical operations worker, said he's been playing Hoosier Lottery draw games, including Hoosier Lotto, three or four times a week for about 20 years. The largest prize he ever previously won was $5,000.
"I am so excited and in disbelief," he said.
Manuel hit the Hoosier Lotto jackpot on just the one ticket he purchased for the drawing. He had his numbers chosen by the ticket machine's "quick pick" feature.
The winning numbers for the drawing were: 3, 5, 8, 18, 31 and 40.
Manuel told lottery officials he's not entirely sure what he'll do with his windfall.
"Before you win the lottery you are always thinking about what you would do if you won and who you would help. At this point, I have not processed next steps. In time, I will give back and take some well deserved vacation time," he said.
Sarah Taylor, Hoosier Lottery executive director, said she's always glad to see a loyal Hoosier Lottery player win a top prize.
"It is so exciting when we can award these large jackpot amounts. It’s nice to know this winner has enjoyed playing our fun and entertaining games for many years," Taylor said.
The odds of winning the Hoosier Lottery jackpot are 1 in 9,366,819. The overall odds of winning any Hoosier Lotto prize are 1 in 6.
Records show the Hoosier Lotto six-number draw game rolled over with no winner in 88 consecutive biweekly drawings before Manuel hit the jackpot on the 89th try.
The lottery said the most recent prior top prize winner claimed $5 million on a ticket sold in Franklin, Indiana, for the Oct. 30, 2021, drawing.