SALEM, Ore. - 94-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran William Bowker almost threw away a winning lottery ticket.
Bowker, an Oregon resident and former pilot, is a regular player of draw games with high payouts. So when his granddaughter visited, she checked his lottery ticket for him. She mistakenly thought it was a Mega Millions ticket instead of a Megabucks ticket.
Luckily, Bowker double-checked his numbers before throwing the ticket away — and discovered a pleasant surprise.
“She got done, and later, I thought I should double-check it before throwing it away,” he said in a press release from the Oregon Lottery. “I am glad I did. I immediately thought — BOOM! I won!”
After learning that he held the ticket to $6.5 million in his hands, Bowker called a family meeting to discuss how he wanted to divide the money. Bowker made it clear to his daughter, a tax attorney, that he planned to share his prize among his family members.
“I have what I need, and I’m 94,” he said. “This is a wonderful way to help my family.”
Bowker decided to take the bulk sum payment of $3.25 million and walked away with $2.2 million after taxes.
The former Air Force pilot purchased the ticket at Jacksons Food Store and used quick pick numbers, according to the news release. Jacksons officials said that they were very excited about selling the winning ticket, as it is the largest ticket they have sold in Oregon so far.
“Jacksons is thrilled for our customer to have one the lottery, and we are happy to be the retailer to sell the winning Oregon’s Game Megabucks ticket,” said Katrina Lemon, advertising and promotions manager for the chain. “We are especially happy to find out the winner is a retired Air Force pilot.”
Jacksons Food Stores will receive $65,000 for selling the winning ticket, a 1 percent selling bonus from the lottery.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.