MAHOMET, Ill. — An Illinois couple plans to use their lottery winnings to visit their son, a U.S. Navy pilot, in Hawaii — and then get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to sail with him on an aircraft carrier as he returns from deployment in the Middle East.
Michael and Marilyn Feigl will use part of their $33,075 winnings to fly to Pearl Harbor this spring. There, they'll reunite with son Matthew Peden, and Michael will get the opportunity to sail onboard the USS John C. Stennis with Peden as the carrier returns to San Diego.
The trip will be made possible through the Navy's Tiger Cruise program, which allows family of Navy personnel to sail as guests during routine journeys. After a few days enjoying Hawaii, Marilyn Feigl will fly to San Diego to meet her husband and son as they arrive on the mainland.
In late February, 63-year-old Mike Feigl bought tickets for a week's worth of drawings in the Illinois Lottery. He didn't discover that one of those tickets was a winner until seven days after the drawing, when he checked his numbers on a digital scanner at the local Meijer store.
He said that a winning ticket — one redeemable for $5 or $10 — will usually trigger a readout that says "Congratulations," followed by the dollar amount.
"This one said, 'Winner, file a claim,'" Feigl said.
He took the ticket to a service desk, where he learned that he'd won $33,075.
"They were more excited than I was," Feigl said of the desk staff.
Prior to this win, the biggest amount he'd won playing the lottery was $100.
That week the couple drove to Springfield to file their claim. There, Feigl said, they were told that they were the first winners in the state to benefit from Illinois Lottery's new "Extra Shot" promotion.
Feigl's ticket matched only five of the six Lotto numbers, but since he chose to invest in the optional "Extra Shot" number, his initial five-number prize of $1,323 was multiplied by 25.
After taxes, the couple will receive $23,152.50.
The couple said that using the money to visit Peden was a natural choice, marking the end of his first overseas deployment.
The 2004 Mahomet-Seymour graduate and 2008 graduate of the University of Illinois' Institute of Aviation has served seven months in the Persian Gulf aboard the Stennis. He's stationed at the naval air station in Lemoore, Calif.
The couple don't have much information about the trip right now, beyond the need to pack light and the fact that they'll be leaving sometime in mid- to late April. For security reasons, the Navy keeps details quiet.
Mike Feigl, who is Peden's stepfather, served aboard a Navy submarine in the late 1960s and early '70s. He said that he's looking forward to seeing day-to-day operations on an aircraft carrier, and added that Peden's father and brother may also go along on the trip.
When he returns to San Diego, Peden will be greeted not only by his mother, but also by his wife, Anna, and their children Joshua, 2, and Sophia, 8 months.
In addition to the Tiger Cruise trip, the Feigls, who've been married 26 years, plan to pay off some remaining bills from the June 2012 wedding of their daughter, Melissa Hunsinger, who lives in Champaign.
Mike Feigl, a retired University of Illinois electrician, said that he has been playing the lottery sporadically ever since its founding in 1974. Marilyn is also retired from the UI, and formerly worked as a substitute teacher in Mahomet-Seymour schools.
While Marilyn said she's never been much of a lottery player, Mike said he plans to keep trying his luck.
"My financial adviser told me a long time ago to put a small amount of money in a high-risk investment," he joked. "The lottery is as high-risk as it gets."
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