O.K. Welty III's last-minute lottery decision became a profitable one for his family.
Welty, a 44-year-old car salesman from Oregon, had been saving Illinois Lottery tickets he bought earlier this year. One of those tickets won him $1,000, which he thought was a pretty big jackpot.
He decided to enter the Lottery's second-chance game because "I figured I didn't have anything to lose."
Welty typically plays the Lottery when the jackpots are high, and he'll buy the occasional scratch-off ticket.
Welty got a voice mail recently telling him he was one of the 16 qualifiers for the Million Dollar Summer finale game show, which took him to Chicago last weekend.
He was the 16th winner, which means his number for the show was 16.
His prize amount in the first round was $55,000, and players had to choose whether they wanted to risk their money to go for the $1 million prize in the second round. They were each guaranteed $50,000, so going for the big money was an easy choice.
Welty's lucky number — 16 — popped up on a ball in the final round.
"Basically, shock and awe took over," Welty said. "It took quite a while for it to sink in."
Welty and his family signed nondisclosure paperwork, which meant they had to wait a week before they could tell anybody about winning the big jackpot. Welty tried to watch the finale on Saturday, but the minute he won, his cell phone wouldn't stop ringing.
The Weltys plan to pay off their mortgage and other bills, build a new garage, install new carpet, buy a new living room set and put some away for retirement.