Janet and Ernie DeCosta can finally get some sleep tonight.
"I plan on being up all night," Janet said Tuesday as she headed out to her traditional weekly bingo game on the eve of a live drawing that could net her $1 million this evening. "I'm a basket case."
More than a year ago, the 50-year-old Weeks Mills resident was on her way to a temporary job at MaineGeneral Medical Center when she scratched off a $10 state instant lottery ticket that handed her a $250,000 prize and a chance to win another $1 million.
"My mother passed away on Aug. 20, 1996, and that's the day, Aug. 20 (2004), I won the $250,000; so I felt my mother had something to do with it," she recalled.
She bought her winning ticket in the lottery's Million Dollar Bonus Spectacular Instant Ticket game at The Market and Deli in South China, lottery officials said. Other winning tickets were sold at a 7-Eleven in Gorham, Food Trend in Houlton and Tommy's Variety in Naples.
DeCosta was only the second of four $250,000 winners to qualify for the $1 million drawing, so she has had to wait more than a year before the last two qualifying tickets showed up.
The other winners are from Hodgdon, Gorham and Bradford, Mass., Maine State Lottery Director Dan Gwadosky said.
"It seems like it's been a year," she said. "I'm trying not to think about the money, because I'll be disappointed if I don't win."
DeCosta said she received a letter from state lottery officials setting the date of the million-dollar drawing for tonight at the Maine Mall in South Portland. The four-person drawing will be broadcast live at 6:15 p.m. during several Maine news programs.
"We invite everyone to come to The Maine Mall and join us in the celebration of this exciting event and watch the fun of a live million-dollar drawing," Gwadosky said.
DeCosta's first winnings enabled her to buy a new car, pay off her husband's pickup truck, give money to her two adult children and some other family members, and pay off college loans she and her husband took out for their children.
Her husband, Ernie DeCosta, said sleep has been hard to come by over the last year.
"This has been driving us crazy," he said. "These last couple weeks have been a little nerve-racking, and the nights have been getting real short. You wake up and it's on your mind. You'd wake up and try not to think about it, but it would jump right out at you.
"I'll be glad when it's over. I'll be real glad if we win the million dollars, but I'll be glad when it's over, either way," he said.
Janet DeCosta's earlier winnings helped her family. But DeCosta said she could do so much more if she comes home with the million-dollar prize.
The most she ever won before, she said, were two $1,000 purses from instant tickets.
"I'll never have a shot like this," she said.