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Woman who won $1,500 in first state lottery wins $1 million 44 years later

Apr 5, 2018, 7:39 am

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Illinois Lottery

Includes video report

Carol Vymetal says she just may be the luckiest woman in Woodridge.

Back in 1974, she won $1,500 in the Illinois Lottery's inaugural draw, and since then she's been a regular player, matching five numbers three or four times along the way.

But all that green pales in comparison to what Vymetal came away with as one of three people who won $1 million each in the St. Patrick's Day Millionaire Raffle.

"It doesn't make any difference if you win back the price of the ticket or if you win the big prize," Vymetal said Tuesday at Leo's Wine and Spirits in Woodridge, where she bought her lucky ticket. "It's just fun winning."

"The last time I hit five numbers and won good money was in the '90s," she said, "and I was unemployed at the time, so that was nice."

The retired AT&T bill processor said her strategy is always evolving.

"I do play every week, but it depends on the game. I'm not a same-game-every-day type of woman or anything," Vymetal said. "I don't have numbers. I don't go by birthdays. I don't do anything. I let the quick picks pick it for me and let the gods work it out."

While she has no grand plans for her winnings, Vymetal said she's eventually going to splurge on something.

"I need a car. I have a 2006 Hyundai Sonata and it needs to be replaced," she said. "I'm looking at Jaguars. That doesn't mean I'm going to get one, though. Whatever it is, it's going to be blue."

Vymetal said her luck isn't limited to the lottery.

"I win raffles at bingo and things like that. I'm pretty lucky when it comes to winning stuff," she said. "My friends pick on me at the seniors club because I win the bingo all the time."

Tarik "Leo" Zayed, owner of Leo's Wine and Spirits, where Vymetal regularly buys her tickets, hopes that luck continues.

"The feel-good story for me is that not only have we finally sold a $1 million ticket but that a regular won it," Zayed said. "Carol is a wonderful woman. She's always been a great customer."

Jerre Stowers of Divernon and Kevin McInerney of Naperville were the other two big winners in the St. Patrick's Day raffle.

McInerny bought his ticket at Solo Liquors, 1474 E. Chicago Ave. in Naperville, and said he plans to use the dough for his children's education.

"Anything can happen," he said. "If the Cubs can win the World Series, then I can win the St. Patrick's Day Millionaire Raffle."

VIDEO: Watch the report

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