Kevin Lutz's lucky number used to be "7" until Christmas Eve and a match of the number "31" made him the second resident near Sayre Borough, Pennsylvania, in two months to win $1 million on a scratch-off ticket.
Lutz purchased the winning "Merry Millionaire" ticket from Carl's Newsstand in Sayre on Christmas Eve, just a short distance from the Dandy Mini Mart in Athens Borough where a Towanda woman purchased a winning $1 million ticket of the same game on Nov. 1.
Lutz, owner of the Last Resort Hotel, Bar and Grill in Sayre, said he plays scratch-off games often, spending about $20 each week on them. However, he said he had never won large amounts until the afternoon of Dec. 24, when he scratched a $20 "Merry Millionaire" ticket while tending bar.
He said he moved into a more well-lit room, and after seeing he had matched one of six winning numbers on the ticket — "31" — to one of 20 numbers below with a $1 million prize, told his stepson and attempted to contact his wife Ginger.
"I ran and got Shane," he said, "I said, 'call your mom, call your mom, I think I just won a million dollars.'"
Lutz said he filed the claim with the Pennsylvania Lottery's Wilkes-Barre office Tuesday afternoon, which now must be verified as a winner by the lottery. A $1 million payout would be subject to a 25 percent federal withholding but no state or local tax, lottery officials said, making Lutz's ticket worth $750,000.
He said he would use the winnings to make a few upgrades to the Last Resort building, and pay off some costs and debts. Lutz added the family is considering a vacation, and said a new car may be in his future as well.
"I'm just glad we have four to six weeks," Lutz said. "We'll take our time and figure out really what we want to do with it."
Carl's Newsstand co-owner Jim Carl on Tuesday confirmed the sale of a winning $1 million ticket, and said the second such ticket might spark additional sales of scratch-offs in the near future.
A 29-year-old Towanda woman won $1 million last month on another "Merry Millionaire" ticket that she purchased from the Dandy Mini Mart on Main Street in Athens Borough.
"I would say it might spur a little ticket sales for awhile," Carl said. "I never thought there'd be two [here], but there are two more left in the state."
If verified, Lutz's claim would be the fourth of the game's six million-dollar prizes to be awarded state-wide, according to Pennsylvania Lottery spokesperson Elizabeth Brassell. She added the tickets are distributed completely randomly, and not portioned out to certain areas of the state.
"Our tickets are randomly distributed throughout all packs for that game, and then the packs are randomly distributed throughout the state," Brassell said. "We don't know where instant winning tickets are until the claims come forward."
Lutz said he would probably still play scratch-off games, despite his windfall.
"I'll probably play a buck here or there," he said. "I'm a gambler. I've never lost a lot, never won a lot-until now."