LANSING, July 15, 1998 – Celebrating the Fourth of July meant much more than fireworks and barbecues for Canton resident Charles Willis!
While enjoying a family getaway up north, Willis discovered he had the sole winning ticket in the July 3 Big Game drawing – worth an even $17 million! That day’s winning numbers were 5, 36, 38, 39, 46, and the Big Money Ball number was 1.
"I checked the numbers Saturday morning at a local party store, wrote them down, and went back to my parents’ house to check my ticket," said Willis. "My knees went weak and I got very pale.
"I took my ticket back to the store to double-check everything," he continued. "The clerk said, ‘congratulations,’ shook my hand and wished me a happy Fourth of July. I called my wife, Lisa, and she didn’t believe me because I sounded so calm."
Willis, 44, said after he had confirmed his ticket matched all six numbers, he "just relaxed on the beaches of Lake Huron the rest of the weekend."
Employed as a truck driver, Willis said his immediate plans include meeting with financial planners and beginning a trust fund for his son’s education. He also plans to pay bills and buy a new house and new cars. "We’ve never had anything new," he joked. "This is fantastic!"
Willis and his family picked up the first installment check of $850,000, before taxes, to be followed by 19 annual installments.
The winning Big Game "easy pick" ticket was purchased at Bill’s Party Store, 2433 E. Michigan Ave., in Ypsilanti.
The Big Game is a six-state lottery game which held its first drawing in September 1996. Lotteries in Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia contribute to the joint prize pool.
To date, the Michigan Lottery has awarded more than $124 million in prizes to six Big Game jackpot winners. In addition, dozens of Michigan Lottery players have correctly matched the first five Big Game numbers to win the game’s $150,000 second-tier prize.
Big Game drawings are conducted every Tuesday and Friday at 11 p.m. The estimated jackpot for the Friday (July 17) drawing is $9 million.
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