Two winners from neighboring counties in southeast Iowa both claimed prizes of $1 million today in the Mega Millions® game.
Betty Downs of Burlington was the first to arrive, but shortly after she got to lottery headquarters in Clive, Mike Hartman from Winfield came in with his own winning ticket. He joked that if they had known, they could have carpooled.
Downs, 75, who is retired, won her $1 million prize in the Mega Millions drawing on Nov. 10, but didn’t realize she’d won a prize until she checked her ticket on Friday. Hartman, 49, a Marine Corps veteran who now drives a truck and has his own business, won his big prize in Friday’s drawing. They both won with easy-pick tickets, but their reactions to the big news were very different.
Downs said when she checked her ticket at a local convenience store, she was convinced that the lottery machine was broken and was giving her incorrect information. So she had the clerk in the store check it again. And Betty said that the girl’s jaw hit the floor.
Hartman was so excited that he checked his ticket four times in a row just so he could take a picture on his phone of the message that the lottery machine displayed, verifying that he’d won a $1 million prize. And then he texted his wife to tell her that they were a little bit richer.
Downs bought her winning ticket at the River Mart convenience store, 2107 Agency St. in Burlington, while Hartman hit big with a ticket he bought at the Countreestore, 2455 120th St. in Winfield. Both businesses will receive a $1,000 bonus from the lottery for selling a $1 million-winning ticket.
Six tickets purchased in Iowa have now won $1 million prizes in 2015.
Hartman and Downs both said that they plan to use their winnings wisely – Hartman to plan for retirement and Downs to pay bills and help her great-granddaughter with college expenses.