Prolific player's luck is going strong, offers advice for jackpot-chasers like him
By Kate Northrop
A lottery enthusiast from Pennsylvania is raking in his fourth jackpot win since 1999, and he has some advice for others chasing millions.
Mike "Lucky" Luciano won a $1 million top prize on a $20 Pennsylvania Lottery scratch-off ticket on Jan. 6, bringing his total winnings to $4.6 million since 1999.
It's not the largest prize he's ever won. In 2016, he struck gold when he won $3 million on a scratch-off ticket, still his biggest payout yet.
Luciano brought home his first prize in 1999, a Cash 5 win worth $100,000. To this day, he can still recite the winning numbers — 1, 10, 19, 22, and 37.
"I don't know why I picked those numbers, but I did, and when I saw them on the computer, I knew I had them all," he said in an interview with Altoona Mirror in 2016.
He and his wife used the extra money to proactively pay off their credit cards and student loans, took his parents to the beach, used the leftover money to help family with small favors, and invested a little on the side.
He continued to play the lottery for 17 years without another big win, but then on Thanksgiving in 2016, he struck gold once again.
On his way home to help his wife with Thanksgiving dinner, he stopped at a store to play some scratch-off tickets against her wishes. When he checked his third ticket, the screen revealed that it was a $3 million winner.
"I drove straight home, running three stop signs on the way," Luciano recalled. "I figured I'd just pay the fines if I got pulled over."
With his second prize, he paid off his parents' bills, bought a brand-new car, took some vacations, invested some money, and made some improvements to his business. However, the winnings were not enough for him to retire.
"You'd think with a payout like that, you would call it quits," he said. "But I realized I still had to work full time."
Often daily and with the stress of work looming over his head, Luciano would pick out a scratch-off while running errands. Last year, Luciano scooped up $500,000 from another instant ticket, and while appreciative of the win, he knew the lottery addiction would keep him spending more.
"I get mad at myself when I don't play my numbers, because it's just there — what if?" he described. "There's a pandemic of people addicted to gambling in this world, and I'm one of them."
He revealed that he had once called a gambling hotline but hung up because the person on the other end of the phone wasn't nice. He also considered counseling but never took himself up on it.
With his latest stroke of luck, he's won a grand total of $4.6 million since scooping that first prize in 1999.
"I just want to thank everybody for their texts and nice messages," Luciano told Centre Daily Times. He said he preferred not to elaborate on his most recent win.
Luciano had stopped at Imler's Poultry in Duncansville and then crossed the road to visit Rutter's on Kuhn Lane to play a video gaming machine game his late mother, Rita, liked.
"I played it for my mother," Luciano explained.
While there, he bought a $20 scratch-off ticket from the "$1,000,000 Extreme Green" game.
With his fourth jackpot-winning ticket in hand, he visited the Lottery office in Clearfield to file a claim for his most recent prize.
The Pennsylvania Lottery published a press release confirming that a winning ticket worth $1 million had been sold at the same retailer Luciano said he bought his ticket at. A spokesperson at the Lottery office in Harrisburg said an announcement would be made after Luciano's claims paperwork is completed.
In January 2021, Luciano revealed his gambling addiction in an interview and recommended that others steer clear of the direction he's taken in life.
"I'm convinced no one wins this many times without playing more than they should," he urged. "I'm addicted to it."
While his wife, friends, and family could not be happier for Luciano, he remarked that something felt hollow about the win.
"People shouldn't do what I do. I don't want them to think — I mean, I'm not ungrateful, this is unbelievable and I couldn't be more thankful it's happening to me — but I don't want people to think it will happen to them."
With Luciano's fourth win, two out of five top prizes of $1 million are left in the "$1,000,000 Extreme Green" game, as well as three second-tier prizes of $100,000 and 13 third-tier prizes of $10,000. For selling the winning ticket, the Rutter's convenience store receives a $5,000 bonus commission.