A southern Iowa man credits his big Powerball win to a recent change to the way the numbers that he plays are chosen.
Lon Grail of Afton said he played the same set of lucky numbers or about a decade until a couple of months ago when he decided to let the computer randomly pick his numbers instead. It turns out that easy picks are the way to go for him, as he won $250,000 in Saturday's drawing.
"After I retired I got tired of messing with the play slip," Grail told lottery employees Monday as he claimed his prize at the lottery's headquarters in Clive.
Grail, a retired railroad worker, said he bought his winning ticket Saturday at Casey's, 501 N. Douglas St. in Afton, and checked his ticket there Sunday morning using a self-checker inside the store.
"I thought the machine was playing a trick on me," he said.
Grail joked that he and his wife, Terri, are used to seeing the lottery terminal display a much different message when he checks his Powerball tickets, so much so that they've given it an acronym: "TTINAW," which stands for "This Ticket Is Not A Winner."
"We're used to that, but when the bells go off then you're supposed to win $3, not $250,000," he said with a smile.
Grail's winning ticket initially matched four of the first five numbers and the Powerball to win a $50,000 prize, but since he added the Power Play option to his purchase his prize multiplied by five. The jackpot has been growing since March 5 and has climbed to an estimated $282 million for Wednesday's drawing.
"I've always bought that Power Play, always," Grail said. "I have friends that always tell me, 'Why do you spend that extra dollar?' 'Somebody has to win,' I tell them."
As for the prize money, the couple said they plan to save a majority of it after taking care of some medical expenses. A new riding lawn mower also is in their near future!
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