Truck driver to keep up with side job following multi-million-dollar win
By Kate Northrop
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A truck driver will continue to mow grass on the side even after scooping up the $15.8 million jackpot in a Hoosier Lottery Hoosier Lotto drawing on Sat., Aug. 14, 2021.
The win came as an obvious shock to Craig Jones of Plainfield, who unknowingly had the winning lottery ticket in his possession for two days before realizing its worth.
"I cut grass on Sunday, worked Monday, and didn't think to look at it until Tuesday," Jones told the Lottery. "The whole time it was in my wallet."
The real value of the ticket began to dawn on him when he stopped at a gas station on Tuesday. Upon scanning the ticket at a register, the machine displayed the message, "Claim at Hoosier Lottery office in Indianapolis." He then checked the ticket again at home, which had the numbers 8, 18, 27, 31, 36, and 42.
"I checked it and had to stumble for my glasses," the winner recalled. "I just stared at those numbers."
Still in disbelief, he ran out to another convenience store and asked to have the winning numbers for the drawing printed out. He cross-checked the numbers a third time, and sure enough all six numbers matched. He called up the Lottery and told the operator, "I think I won the lottery."
On Friday, Jones and his family visited Lottery headquarters to claim his prize, opting for the $9.8 million cash payout. For the whole week prior, he reassured everyone there that he safeguarded that ticket.
"I have carried that ticket with me ever since and did not let it out of my sight," Jones emphasized. "I'm overwhelmed and the emotion has built up in my chest."
Jones accepted a ceremonial check from Lottery Executive Director Sarah M. Taylor during his visit to Indianapolis.
"We love when Hoosiers play our game, and we love when Hoosiers win," Taylor said. "We feel like winners ourselves. It is so exciting when we can award these prizes and especially these large jackpot amounts."
Having worked as a semi-truck driver for over 25 years, Jones bought the winning ticket while stopping along his truck route at the Lassus Bros. Oil on US Highway 24 W in Fort Wayne to redeem a free lottery ticket he won from a previous play. That free ticket won him the jackpot.
"When we heard that the jackpot was won in one of our Fort Wayne locations, we were super excited," Lassus Bros. Oil, Inc., Vice President of Operations Stephanie Galentine said in a press release. "The fact that the winner comes from a free ticket is just amazing. I can't imagine how they feel. Once it was announced that we had a winner, our customers were super excited and very curious if it was someone local or not."
In addition to truck driving, Jones had also mowed grass on the side and said he enjoyed the hard work.
"The dollars earned from cutting grass is my little extra money," he explained.
While he may use his multi-million-dollar prize to indulge here and there, he'll continue to do what he loves on the side, perhaps even switch up his vehicle of choice.
"Retirement is in the plans," Jones stated. "I am not a big spender. I may get myself a treat. I love cutting grass and will continue to do that. After driving a semi for many years, I think I'd rather drive a school bus."
According to the Lottery, there have been seventy-six Hoosier Lotto drawings since the last jackpot win on Sat., Nov. 21, 2020 in Santa Claus, Ind., with the last claimed jackpot worth $2.2 million. The Hoosier Lotto jackpot was won five times last year.
Hoosier Lotto drawings take place every Wednesday and Saturday at 11:00 pm EST. Players select six numbers on a play slip and may add on the +PLUS feature for $1 for a chance to win $1 million or other prizes by matching the +PLUS winning numbers in a drawing. Each play costs $2.