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Illinois man wins $25K a year for life from lottery ticket after clerk's lucky mistake

Thanks to an apparent honest mistake by a gas station clerk, a 60-year-old Illinois man is nearly $400,000 richer.

Michigan Lottery officials said Michael Sopejstal won $25,000 a year for life when a Lucky for Life lottery ticket he bought matched the five white balls drawn on Sept. 17: 11-15-17-24-48.

According to a press release, Sopejstal traveled to The Great Lakes State from his hometown and bought the winning ticket at a GoLo gas station in New Buffalo, a town near Lake Michigan about 70 miles from Chicago.

Michael Sopejstal, 60, won $25,000 for life when a Lucky For Life lottery ticket he purchased matched the five white balls drawn on Sept. 17, 2023, Michigan Lottery officials said.
Michael Sopejstal, 60, won $25,000 for life when a Lucky For Life lottery ticket he purchased matched the five white balls drawn on Sept. 17, 2023, Michigan Lottery officials said.

Every few weeks, Sopejstal said, he visits Michigan "to eat at his favorite restaurant."

"I always get a Lucky for Life ticket for 10 or 20 draws while I’m here,” Sopejstal said during a recent trip to the Michigan Lottery headquarters.

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A lump sum payout instead

The lucky winner said he asked the retailer for a ticket for 10 draws, but the clerk "accidentally printed" a ticket with 10 lines for one draw.

"I told him I still wanted it," Sopejstal recalled. “I checked my ticket one morning and saw that I had won $25,000 a year for life. I immediately started thinking about all the things I could do with the money... It was an amazing feeling!”

The lucky lotto winner chose to receive his winnings as a one-time lump sum payment of $390,000, rather than payments of $25,000 a year for life, according to the release.

Sopejstal said he plans to use the money to travel and put the rest into savings.

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When is the Lucky for Life next drawing?

According to the state lottery website, Lucky for Life players can win prizes ranging from $3 to a lifetime of cash.

Tickets are $2 each, and to win the game’s top prize − $1,000 a day for life − players need to match all five winning numbers plus one "Lucky Ball" number. Those who match all five winning numbers, but not the "Lucky Ball" win $25,000 a year for life.

The state's next Lucky for Life drawing is Monday night.

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on X @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lucky for Life lottery win: Man wins $390K after clerk's mistake