Big Lottery Winners


Joe and Sue Kainz

Joe and Sue Kainz of Tower Lakes, Illinois, won a share of the $363 million Big Game lottery jackpot on May 9, 2000, the largest lottery jackpot in North America to date.

The Big Game, now named Mega Millions, is a multi-state lottery game played in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia. Tickets cost $1 and, in addition to the jackpot, there are eight other ways to win cash prizes ranging from $1 to $150,000.

Joe says that for the past five years he routinely buys lottery tickets and spends about $5 to $7 a week on Lotto. But for the May 9 Big Game draw, he bought 10 tickets worth $50.

"I'm sitting there at my desk, and I had 10 tickers because we had bought $50 worth of tickets. I had 10 tickets, and I went through five of them. And you know, you have got one, two, three, nothing, I got to the fifth ticket and I got to the third line on and, you know, boom, one, two, three, four, five, but I never get the last number. And I was afraid to look. I looked over there and I saw 04, and I did -- I can't tell you what I said to myself. But man, I just -- you know, I felt my stomach retreat down in the lower portion of my body. I checked that ticket on my desk for about 10 times," Joe recalls when he checked his Big Game tickets.

Sue says the day that they realized that the win was for real, they took the ticket into the bank and put it in the safety deposit box. Sue adds that she and Joe were both very nervous, they were eating the saltwater taffy on the desk big time.

"And the next morning, a partial plate of mine fell out so I had to get to the dentist very fast. And the dentist is in Lake Zurich and he's got his fingers in my mouth and jokingly says to me, so when are you going to pick up your winning ticket at Sweeney's, Sue? And I almost bit his fingers off," she adds.

With their newly found fortune, Joe says he just wants to have the roof of their house fixed. "And then, soon, I might take a trip to Ireland and France and do that. But we are going to take it very easy," says Joe. He adds that he also wants to expand their micro brewery and medical supply companies.

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