A St. Louis (63122)* man’s decision to add Power Play to his Powerball ticket paid off by turning what would’ve been a $1 million prize into a $2 million payday.
John Lee, 48, used a combination of family birthdays and lucky numbers to select all five white-ball numbers drawn on Dec. 4. Since Lee paid an extra $1 to add the Power Play feature to his ticket, he automatically won $2 million, the fixed Power Play prize amount.
While claiming the prize with his wife, Laura, at Lottery headquarters in Jefferson City, Lee shared how he “almost won the whole jackpot.”
“I normally play the same five numbers,” Lee began. “But, I change up the Powerball number I use. Sometimes I’ll play my birthday, which falls on the 25th, but I also play Laura’s birthday, which is on the 28th.”
On Dec. 4, 2013, the winning numbers were: 6, 9, 11, 31, 44, and the Powerball was 25. Lee decided to use his wife’s birthday, 28, for the Powerball number instead of his own, 25.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he started. “I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but if I had used my birthday instead of Laura’s birthday, we would’ve won the $81 million jackpot,” Lee revealed.
The first-time Lottery winner was quick to add that despite being so close to winning the jackpot, he is “more than grateful” for his good fortune.
“It’s a blessing that we matched all of the numbers that we did, and we were so close to matching every single number,” he reflected.
Lee, a self-proclaimed Lottery enthusiast, joked that when he and Laura met in graduate school at Washington University, one of their professors would lecture their class about why people shouldn’t play the Lottery.
“He’d say, ‘The odds are too high,’” he recalled. “I think I started playing the Lottery right after graduating from college – as soon as I got my first ‘real’ job.”
Lee and his wife plan to use the windfall to finish home improvement projects, put money aside for their children’s college tuition and save for retirement.
“You know, I used to get the roll of the eyes when I’d tell Laura I needed to buy my Lottery tickets for the week,” Lee teased. “But now, she has changed her tune. I think she’s pretty happy I’ve been playing all of these years.”
Laura echoed her husband’s sentiments by noting she is now “a big fan” of his playing routine.
“I’m very thankful,” she said. “I just wish he would’ve played his own birthday instead of mine!”
Lee bought his Powerball ticket at Schnucks Market, 10233 Manchester Road, in St. Louis.
“The staff at Schnucks had a hunch that I was the winner, because I’m one of the few people who play Power Play every week,” Lee expressed. “Everyone is always so friendly and welcoming. It was fun to tell the clerks that I was the winner. They were excited!”
Schnucks received a $1,000 bonus for selling a second-tier Powerball prize.
Powerball is a multi-state Draw Game that gives players nine ways to win cash prizes with the jackpot starting at $40 million. In addition to the jackpot, the game offers second-level prizes of $1 million, third-level prizes of $10,000 and better-than-ever payouts by using Power Play. Lee is the 388th Missouri Lottery-made millionaire.