TOLONO — A Tolono man who won $1 million from a scratch-off Illinois Lottery ticket says he has no plans to quit his job building houses.
“I plan to put the money in the bank and retire a little earlier,” Ray Eckstein said on Thursday night.
Eckstein, 55, was walking from his home to Unity High School to see his son play a football game on Sunday when he decided to first stop at the Casey’s General Store to cash $30 in winnings from another lottery ticket.
Instead of taking the money, Eckstein bought another $30 scratch-off ticket.
“I was walking away from Casey’s and was heading to the high school to watch my son play football when I decided to scratch the ticket,” Eckstein said. “I was in disbelief when I saw that I had won $1 million. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The Tolono man first called his wife, Theresa Eckstein, to tell her about his good fortune.
“At first she thought I was lying,” Eckstein said.
Theresa then met her husband at his parents’ home and saw that Ray had indeed won $1 million.
Eckstein said the Illinois Lottery gave him two choices.
“I could take a one-time payout, but it comes to only about $400,000 after they take out the taxes,” Eckstein said. “I decided to take $40,000 a year for 25 years, which comes to $1 million.”
Eckstein said he plans to put the money in the bank, continue to build houses and save the money for retirement.
“I don’t want to quit working now the way the economy is going, but I hope to retire a little earlier,” he said.