Best Birthday Ever: Crawford County Man Wins $300,000 Playing Michigan Lottery’s Double Bonus Cashword Instant Game

Ervin Smolinski smiles after collecting his $300,000 prize.

What do you get the 94-year-old man who has everything? A Double Bonus Cashword instant game ticket worth $300,000.

Ervin Smolinski, of South Branch, who turned 94 on March 17, was stunned when he received a Double Bonus Cashword ticket worth $300,000 as a gift. His daughter-in-law bought the winning ticket at the CVS Pharmacy, located at 22250 Middlebelt Road in Farmington Hills.

“Every month, I buy some instant tickets and send them as gifts to family members who have birthdays that month,” said Smolinski. “It’s turned in to a bit of a tradition, and now everyone sends me scratch offs and chocolate for my birthday.”

Smolinski, a World War II Navy veteran, remained calm after scratching off the big winner.

“I had four Double Bonus Cashword tickets and the big winner was the first one I scratched,” said Smolinski. “I’ve seen a lot in my time, and I don’t get worked up too easily. I think my son-in-law was more worked up than I was.”

Ervin Smolinski’s winning Double Bonus Cashword ticket.

For the next few days, Smolinski kept checking to make sure he had the ticket and that what he was reading was real.

“I wanted to keep the ticket safe, so I kept it in my pocket,” said Smolinski. “I got a little nervous about that, because a lot of time I’ll toss the paper I accumulate in my pocket into my wood burner. Luckily that didn’t happen with my ticket.”

Smolinski visited Lottery headquarters Tuesday to claim his big prize. With his winnings, he plans to invest, buy a new shed, and buy a newer used car.

“I’m pretty frugal, I always shop sales and take care of my money and that won’t change. The only thing that will change is I won’t have as much stress in my life worrying about money,” Smolinski said.

Players have won more than $12.7 million playing Double Bonus Cashword, which launched in October 2016. Each $5 ticket offers players a chance to win prizes ranging from $5 up to $300,000. More than $13.6 million in prizes remain, including one $300,000 top prize, seven $10,000 prizes, and 26 $2,000 prizes.

Lottery instant games may be purchased at 11,000 retailers across the state.

In 2016, Lottery players won nearly $817 million playing instant games.

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