ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — A St. Louis firefighter is the first Missouri Lottery player to claim the top prize on a “Millionaire” Scratchers ticket. Bob Church, 60, bought the winning ticket on May 21 after leaving the firehouse on his last day of work prior to vacation. Church said it quickly changed the tone of his week off.
“It’s still kind of trying to sink in,” he admitted. “I’ve been with this fire department for 37 years. With our retirement, I was hoping to retire next October and struggle through it. But now, it looks like it might be this October.”
Church bought the winning ticket at Aro-Mart, 3755 Harvester Road, in St. Peters. Although he works in Chesterfield, he makes his home in St. Charles. The Aro-Mart is his regular stop for Scratchers tickets.
“They’ve got one of those little Scratchers tables,” he explained. “I went back there. I stood there for about 10 minutes looking at it before I ever took it up to the counter.”
After confirming his $1 million win, his first course of action was to tell his wife, Dawn.
“I took the ticket to show my wife, and she couldn’t believe it,” he recalled. “The first thing she asked me was if it was one of those fake tickets.”
To get the confirmation she was demanding, Church took the ticket to the St. Louis Lottery office, but then left with it after discovering he had an option with regard to the prize. Top prize winners in the “Millionaire” game can take the $1 million prize as a 20-year annuity or a lump sum of $700,000. After consulting with his retirement advisor, Church settled on the lump sum.
“Well, we’re going to pay off the house and the cars; stuff like that,” he said.
“That way I don’t have any monthly payments except utility bills,” he continued. “That will make retirement a little easier, too.”
Church said he likes to play Scratchers because he feels like he wins more often. He has won prizes of $1,000 and $2,000 in the past.
“The very first day the Lottery started here with scratch-offs, I was in line to buy some,” he declared. “The big ones are out there. I found out!”
“Millionaire” is a $10 game that officially began May 20. The game features three top prizes of $1 million. More than $35 million in prizes, including two top prizes, remain in the game. Track prizes remaining for any Missouri Lottery Scratchers game at MOLottery.com.