Debbie Kujava stopped at a Holiday convenience store in Roseau, Minn., to buy a Diet Sunkist after work on March 13.
While there, she decided to buy a lottery-ticket bundle for $7. She thought she might win $1 or $2.
When she realized on Thursday that her ticket matched every number for the multi-state Lotto America game, she stepped outside to calm down and smoke a cigarette.
"I was shaking. My heart was beating so fast," Debbie Kujava said Monday at Minnesota Lottery headquarters in Roseville. "I couldn't believe it."
Then, she called her brother, Dennis Kujava. The siblings had an agreement: if either of them won the lottery, they would split the money evenly.
The siblings live a half-mile apart in Badger, Minn.; a small town of 375 near the Canadian border on Minnesota 11.
Debbie Kujava thought they won $2 million. When she told her brother she thought they were millionaires, he said, "Yeah, right."
It was Dennis Kujava's daughter, Denise Kujava, who discovered they had actually won $22.8 million. She and her sister will share their father's half of the jackpot.
After finding out she won the jackpot, Debbie Kujava worked three 12-hour shifts over the weekend as a licensed practical nurse at LifeCare Medical Center in Roseau.
She resigned from her job at 7 p.m. Sunday.
When she told her boss she was quitting because she had won the lottery, Debbie Kujava started crying. "I love my job. I love my residents," she said.
Debbie Kujava, 57, plans to pay off all of her bills and her house, as well as donate to multiple charities including North Country Horsemen Saddle Club in Middle River, Minn.
Denise Kujava, 34, works at Polaris Industries in Roseau and plans to pay off her camper. "That's all I know for now," she said Monday as she, her father and her aunt validated their winning ticket with the Minnesota Lottery.
Dennis Kujava, 66, is retired from working at Polaris. He plans to donate some of the money to Concordia Lutheran Church in Badger.
"We've been going there all our lives, and it's a rural church," Dennis Kujava said.
After taxes on the $13.5 million cash-option payout, the Kujavas will receive a check for about $9.4 million. As the store that sold the winning ticket, the Holiday at 503 Third St. N.W. in Roseau will receive a $10,000 bonus.
The Kujavas won the first jackpot prize in the Lotto America game that began just four months ago. Lotto America replaced the canceled Hot Lotto game.
The odds of matching all five Lotto America numbers plus the Star Ball are 1 in nearly 26 million, according to the Minnesota Lottery.
Along with Minnesota, Lotto America is played in Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia.
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