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Elgin couple wins $2 million on scratch-off lottery ticket

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Updated: April 9, 2013 9:49AM

ELGIN — For this, Mary Michaud said, she will have her picture taken.

The Elgin woman and her husband, Gil, had a lot of pictures taken Monday when the Illinois Lottery announced the couple’s recent lottery win — $2 million from a scratch-off ticket.

Mary, 44, picked up a $10 Mega Cash instant win ticket at the McLean BP, 1190 N. McLean Blvd., on Good Friday March 29, and went home before checking her tickets.

Gil, 45, was raking the lawn when she realized the ticket was a winner. For the next three days, the rake stayed where Gil dropped it as the couple ran next door to show the ticket to a neighbor for confirmation.

Over the weekend, the signed ticket was left in safe place, Mary said.

“I always thought our 175-pound English Mastiff” was enough security, but she found herself checking every lock before going out of the house for the next two days, Mary said.

On Monday, April Fool’s Day, they met with a financial advisor before bringing the ticket in to the Des Plaines Illinois Lottery Prize Center to claim their winnings.

Mary opted for the one-time cash payout of $1.2 million. After state and federal taxes, the couple will receive $840,000.

The win, the couple said, will make it “easier to breathe.”

Instead of planning how to spend the money, the couple said, they are looking at how to make it stretch as long as possible without blowing through it.

Their two Mazdas are 10 years old, they have a mortgage, medical bills, and a daughter with student loans. They’d like to pay off those immediate bills and invest the rest “for retirement, big time,” Mary said.

There is one splurge coming, however — Gil has already ordered a new Harley Davidson motorcycle.

The couple said that while they have been comfortable, times have been tight. Mary’s job in the insurance industry has seen changes and a $40,000 pay cut in recent years through job changes. At one point, she was unemployed for about two weeks but found a new job, just at a lower pay scale.

She also had medical bills from two neck surgeries in recent years.

Investing the money wisely is the lesson they think all lottery winners need to remember.

“Invest if you can, or it will disappear fast,” Gil noted.

The win probably won’t change their lifestyle, Mary said. “My employment outlook, maybe.”

She’s always been one to look for deals, and that probably won’t change. They bought their two cars at the same time because they got a deal, she said.

If she gets a different car, Mary said, it doesn’t have to be new — just a good deal.

“I am in sales; it is my nature,” she said.

“We are at an age where I might not want to work anymore,” she said, but only if the lottery winnings are invested wisely. “We won’t go all Hollywood.”

She admits to enjoying playing the lottery, but reminds players that they have to play responsibly. Mary would pick up $40 in tickets every couple of weeks, and enjoys the scratch-off tickets. Most of her wins — outside of a $100 or $500 winner here and there — go back into buying more tickets.

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