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It can happen... from broke to lots of bucks

Illinois LotteryIllinois Lottery: It can happen... from broke to lots of bucks

James Gatzke was struggling with depression, and living off handouts and charity, with only his seven cats for company, when he hit the jackpot.

Three weeks ago, the unemployed 44-year-old was eating beef stew out of a can, and scraping by on food and cash donations from neighbours and charities.

His water and power supply had long been cut off, he hadn't worked since August when he was laid off from his job as a cab driver, and he hadn't bathed in months.

"All I wanted for Christmas was to have dinner with my parents in heaven. That's how down and depressed I was," Gatzke said.

A gamble on the Illinois state lottery changed all that, turning the down-at-heel Gatzke into a multi-millionaire overnight when he netted 5.5 million dollars in a November 26 draw.

"It feels like I hit a homerun in the ninth inning of the World Series," he said this week. "I still can't believe it happened."

With no immediate living relatives, Gatzke called on a longtime friend, J.R. Bramlett, to help him manage his new-found funds.

Within a day, Bramlett helped Gatzke open a bank account and buy a car --a black 1991 Cadillac with 155,000 miles on it.

Bramlett also took Gatzke for his first full meal since November 20 -- a prime rib dinner with all the trimmings.

In return, Gatzke made Bramlett his beneficiary should something happen to him.

Gatzke is close to buying a home and barn on 3.5 acres in the country.

He's considering donating the modest brick bungalow that he inherited from his parents in Calumet Park, suburban Chicago, to a local church, and of course he's promising to take care of the two elderly ladies who helped him out during the tough times.

But otherwise, Gatzke is not planning any major changes.

"I'm going to relax and take it easy for a while," he said. "And I am going to play the Mega Millions (lottery)."

Business Day

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17 comments. Last comment 13 years ago by CASH Only.
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numbersman's avatar - pyramid
NC
United States
Member #2418
October 1, 2003
375 Posts
Offline
Posted: December 11, 2003, 5:55 am - IP Logged

Good things comes to the needy. Just a little faith goes a long way.

    Rick G's avatar - avatar 1766.jpg
    FEMA Region V Camp #21
    United States
    Member #520
    July 27, 2002
    5699 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: December 11, 2003, 6:14 am - IP Logged

    One of the coolest lottery stories I've ever read...puts faith in fate and life in perspective for all of us.  The '91 Caddy with 155K miles on it was the clincher.

    Posted 4/6:  IL Pick 3 midday and evening until they hit:  555, 347 (str8).


      fxdwg's avatar - animal bear.jpg

      United States
      Member #2870
      November 25, 2003
      76 Posts
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      Posted: December 11, 2003, 11:00 am - IP Logged

      nice heartwarming story however down on luck living on charity and still found money to buy a lottery ticket?

        whodeani's avatar - lightening

        United States
        Member #2484
        October 9, 2003
        212 Posts
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        Posted: December 11, 2003, 11:54 am - IP Logged

        Yes that is a nice story. Don't get the 1991 Caddy with 155K miles on it though. You just got about $2 million after taxes and you buy a 12 year old car. Go out and get that new Caddy.


          United States
          Member #379
          June 5, 2002
          11296 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: December 11, 2003, 12:08 pm - IP Logged

          The story does not mention whether he took (or is taking) the lump sum.

            whodeani's avatar - lightening

            United States
            Member #2484
            October 9, 2003
            212 Posts
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            Posted: December 11, 2003, 12:47 pm - IP Logged

            Yeah I know it doesn't mention if he took the the lump sum or not but I hope that he would.

              vincejr's avatar - wallace
              Somewhere in VA
              United States
              Member #1944
              July 29, 2003
              130 Posts
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              Posted: December 11, 2003, 2:11 pm - IP Logged

              Personally, I think his friend is steering him right....My guess is the 91 Caddy is all the guy really needs right now and certainly is a heck of a lot cheaper than a new one. Why spend money on a new car just because you can?

                chunnybunny29's avatar - friends

                United States
                Member #2782
                November 14, 2003
                20 Posts
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                Posted: December 11, 2003, 3:25 pm - IP Logged

                Nice warm fuzzy story.Thats wh

                  Blimey's avatar - box avatar.gif
                  Illinois
                  United States
                  Member #1201
                  February 27, 2003
                  86 Posts
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                  Posted: December 11, 2003, 8:34 pm - IP Logged

                  He took the annuity....

                    Avatar
                    New Member
                    tn
                    United States
                    Member #2964
                    December 7, 2003
                    14 Posts
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                    Posted: December 12, 2003, 2:08 am - IP Logged

                    I am happy to see someone who needs it win,too. maybe the ticket was a present from someone who thought he needed it ,or maybe ,from the way he was talking ,it was going to be the last he bought,and he lucked out,or maybe he had a dream or just felt lucky. or maybe his angel was watching out for him.


                      United States
                      Member #379
                      June 5, 2002
                      11296 Posts
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                      Posted: December 12, 2003, 12:02 pm - IP Logged

                      If he took the annuity, then he probably was VERY foolish.

                        Avatar
                        Baltimore MD
                        United States
                        Member #2656
                        October 31, 2003
                        108 Posts
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                        Posted: December 12, 2003, 12:19 pm - IP Logged

                        Yo James.  Remember me.  I'm your long, long, long, long, lost sister on the 5th generation. 

                          fja's avatar - gnome1

                          United States
                          Member #91
                          January 19, 2002
                          11924 Posts
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                          Posted: December 12, 2003, 12:59 pm - IP Logged

                          another one for the good guys!!  way to go.

                          "Everybody has to believe in something...I believe I'll have another beer!"   = W.C.Fields                      

                            RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                            mid-Ohio
                            United States
                            Member #9
                            March 24, 2001
                            19817 Posts
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                            Posted: December 12, 2003, 3:14 pm - IP Logged
                            Quote: Originally posted by CASH Only on December 12, 2003


                            If he took the annuity, then he probably was VERY foolish.



                            I bet he doesn't feel VERY foolish regardless of how he receives his money. 

                             * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                               
                                         Evil Looking