It took a few weeks for Dick Zelasko to realize he was a millionaire.
Zelasko, of Troy, claimed the $80 million Mega Millions jackpot from the July 5 drawing at Lottery headquarters in Lansing on Friday. The jackpot had originally been advertised at $79 million but was increased as a result of strong sales.
Zelasko said he purchased the easy pick ticket and put it in his wallet. When he checked the ticket at a Lottery self-scanner, the message screen advised him to contact the Lottery. Not necessarily thinking the ticket was a big winner, Zelasko “stuffed it back in his wallet.”
He even took a vacation and a few golfing trips, all with the $80 million ticket in his wallet.
“That would have been a terrible time to lose your wallet,” he laughed.
Zelasko saw a story about a person claiming to be the July 5 winner in his local paper and commented to friends and coworkers that he buys his tickets at the same retailer, John’s Market, located at 75 E. Square Lake Rd. in Troy.
He continued to occasionally scan the ticket and after repeatedly getting the same message, then Zelasko went online to check the numbers. That was August 13.
“I thought someone was playing a joke on me,” he said. “We paced and paced all night.”
Zelasko, who also enjoys playing roulette at the casino, said he’s played the Lottery for years and prefers Mega Millions and Powerball. His largest previous prize was $10 or $20. And despite the big win, Zelasko said he will “absolutely” continue to play the Lottery.
“You go with the streak, not against it!” he said.
“For the most part, it is entertainment,” Zelasko said. “But sometimes you just get that gut feeling. I’d see the billboard and put myself in the mindset of “what would you do?””
Zelasko is contemplating purchasing a new home as well as a car and said the new-found wealth will allow him “to just take care of family and enjoy the peace of mind” the prize brings. “That really is the biggest reward.”
John’s Market, a Michigan Lottery retailer since 1986, will receive a $50,000 bonus commission.
Since June 2002, Michigan has had 17 multi-state jackpot winners, including 15 Mega Millions winners and two Powerball winners. This is the sixth largest jackpot ticket sold in Michigan; the largest jackpot was claimed by Donald Lawson, who snagged the $337 million Powerball jackpot on August 15, 2012. This is 4th largest Mega Millions jackpot ticket sold in Michigan; the top slot belongs to Ralph and Mary Stebbins of Port Huron, who won $208 million on April 22, 2005.
Zelasko joins Judy Juntunen as Michigan’s second Mega Millions jackpot winner this year. Juntunen, of Atlantic Mine, snagged a $19 million prize in the February 5 drawing.
Mega Millions tickets are available in 43 states plus the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands. In the July 5 drawing in which the jackpot was won, an additional 20,002 Michigan players won prizes totaling over $103,670.