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Illinois woman wins $500 a week for life

Apr 21, 2016, 8:08 am

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Illinois Lottery

Debbie Howard was spending spring break in Florida when she got a call from her father.

He asked her when she was coming home. Howard thought the question was a little strange. She told him about the trip, and he knew when she planned to return home.

Then he told her to come by his house. He had a card she needed to sign.

She was confused at first.

"He said 'I need you to sign a Lotto ticket that you won for $500,'" Howard said.

Then he added that the prize was $500 a week for the rest of her life.

Howard told her father she would be there Monday evening.

She told a relative who lived in Florida, but tried not to get too excited for two reasons. She thought her dad might be confused. And, Illinois has not been paying lottery winners.

"I wasn't really sure he knew what he was talking about," Howard said. "Actually, my dad is a lotto player. He has played all my life."

Howard also learned Illinois resumed payments to lottery winners in December 2015.

When Howard arrived at her father's home, he said the winning ticket was on the kitchen table. She looked at the ticket on the table, but it was not a winner.

"He stepped back into the living room and said the ticket was on his table," Howard said.

This time, the ticket checked out. Howard signed the ticket and kept it in a safe until she could claim her prize at the Illinois Prize Center in Fairview Heights.

Howard had the option of taking a lump sum payment equal to $500 per week for 15 years.

"Different people say different things, but I opted to take the $500 for a week. I can will it to a child for up to 20 years," Howard said.

The prize is guaranteed for 20 years payout.

Her winnings will be taxed at 28.75 percent, so she will receive about $356 of $500 after taxes. She will receive the payments in yearly installments of about $18,500 per year. She will receive her first payment the end of April.

The money came at a good time for Howard and her family. Her son is a junior at Herrin High School and her daughter is a freshman. She worked as a cheerleading coach, but was considering quitting to find a full-time job to help pay for college for her children.

"It was pretty exciting because I am a cheerleading coach who works part-time," Howard said. "Now, I'm going to stay and coach because I really like it, and I don't have to worry about the money so much."

Howard's parents always played the lottery, both her dad and mom. They even bought a few books over the years to help improve their odds. It finally paid off. Howard is playing a little more frequently, too.

"Every place I stop I buy at least a dollar ticket. I hear my mom saying you can't win if you don't play," Howard said.

The winning scratch-off ticket was purchased at Red Top Liquor at 120 E. Cherry St. in Herrin.

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Thanks to Coin Toss for the tip.

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