It's a miracle recovery that averted tragedy
By Kate Northrop
SPARTA, Tenn. — A Tennessee player became a million dollars richer overnight and almost immediately lost his millionaire status the next day thanks to a fluke that had the potential to leave things on a very tragic note.
All hope seemed lost when a winning Tennessee Lottery ticket worth $1,178,746 was thought to be gone for good, rolling around in the dirt somewhere or blowing around in the breeze on a particularly windy day. In what seemed like a miracle, the rogue ticket was recovered by its rightful owner after it had sat untouched in a parking lot for an hour.
Nick Slatten of Sparta spent the day last Wednesday laying tile in Smithville and decided to stop at the nearby Village Market convenience store on North Congress Boulevard before heading home. There, he picked up a beverage and a lottery ticket for that night's Tennessee Cash drawing.
The next morning, he checked the results for the drawing on Mar. 10 and noticed that he had matched two numbers. He looked again and felt a rush of surprise when all the numbers drawn matched the numbers on his ticket — 2, 4, 23, 27, 34, and Cash Ball 2 — earning him the $1.18 million jackpot.
"I was stunned," Slatten told the Lottery. "I couldn't believe it. I can't express it. It was something else."
He hurried off to his fiancée Michelle's workplace in Sparta to share the news. After that, he ran some errands, one of which was taking his brother to the O'Reilly's Auto Parts store on West Bockman Way to buy a car part, followed by lunch.
Slatten realized an hour later that his million-dollar ticket was missing.
"I couldn't find it anywhere," he recalled.
As far as Slatten knew, the ticket could have been anywhere. It was a notably windy day, so it was very possible that it could have been sailing through the air or utterly lost. The ticket also wasn't signed, meaning that anyone meandering by could have picked it up and claimed it for themselves.
He was not about to give up on his million-dollar prize. Slatten quickly started to retrace his steps, which eventually brought him back to the O'Reilly Auto Parts parking lot. There, lying in the pavement completely untouched was the elusive lottery ticket. He picked it up from the ground, where it was sitting right next to the driver's side door of another car.
"It's a million-dollar ticket, and someone stepped right over it," he remarked.
In the future, Slatten said that he and his fiancée will continue working and plan on using the winnings to buy a home and better vehicles. Aiming live life with "not a whole lot of worries," they have plans for investing a portion of the prize.
According to the Lottery, Slatten's winning ticket is one of five worth $1 million or more sold in Tennessee this month and the 310th ticket sold worth at least $1 million since the Lottery began in 2004.
Hopefully, the other winners didn't have the same scare that Slatten did, but if one thing is for certain, he will have quite the story to tell down the road about winning the lottery.