Bobby McDonald, pictured with his fiancée, Jennifer Johnson, holds his $1 million winning ticket.
For Bobby McDonald of East Alton, a $1 million payday in the Illinois Lottery’s St. Patrick’s Day Millionaire Raffle doesn’t yet seem real.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s sunk in yet,” McDonald said.
McDonald, 34, an Alton native and lifelong area resident, is a longtime lottery player. He started with Mega Millions tickets for a dollar but now mainly plays Lotto or Lucky Day Lotto because their winners are drawn solely from Illinois, providing better odds than the national games like Mega Millions and Powerball. He’s been buying the raffle tickets since the lottery started offering them.
“It’s finally paid off,” he said. “It’s a good feeling.
“When people sit there and play the lottery and their friends tell them ‘I don’t know why you waste your money on that stuff,’ tell them to talk to me,” he said.
Winning the lottery carries a certain amount of notoriety, McDonald said. News of his winnings hit the Internet Monday morning.
“Our cellphones have been getting blown up on Facebook,” he said.
McDonald, an Alton Steel Inc. employee, plans to use the money to buy a house with his fiancée, Jennifer Johnson; buy a new vehicle, pay off debts and invest so he can retire early. For now, though, he plans to keep working at the steel mill.
McDonald bought his winning ticket at Beasley’s Gas ‘N Go, 570 N. Wood River Ave. in Wood River. The retailer received a $10,000 bonus, 1 percent of the prize amount, for selling a winning ticket.
The St. Patrick’s Day raffle offered players a chance to win one of 7,122 prizes, including three prizes of $1 million. The other two $1 million tickets were sold in the Chicago area. Players who bought a raffle ticket can check the winning numbers by visiting www.illinoislottery.com or one of the Lottery’s 8,100 retailers.