A mother and son lottery playing duo from Chicago visited the Illinois Lottery Headquarters on Thursday, May 8, 2014, and claimed a life-changing prize.
Shirley Stojak, 77, works at the Jewel-Osco supermarket in Niles. She's worked there for 15 years and often purchases lottery for her son Daniel Stojak, 46.
Some of Shirley's past in-store lottery ticket purchases have reaped a few small wins, and one $10,000 prize, but she went weak at the knees on April 1, 2014, when she scratched off the ticket she'd bought for her son and realized it was worth $2.5 million.
"The whole body started to go," she said. "I couldn't stop shaking. I always dreamed it could happen, but I never thought it would happen to me."
When Shirley rang Daniel to tell him the news he thought she was playing an April Fool's Day prank and got quite a surprise when he realized his mother was being serious.
"I was a little shocked," Daniel said. "I didn't sleep for a few days."
He chose to take the winnings as a one-off, lump-sum payment of $1.5 million (before state and federal taxes) and the Jewel-Osco supermarket received a $25,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.
Daniel now plans to take a vacation and is considering buying a new car. He also offered to pay for his mother to retire, but she doesn't want to and she's more popular than ever with people at work.
"They come up and rub me," Shirley said. "They say, 'I need your luck.'"