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$500,000-Winning Ticket Sold In Eastern Iowa

Illinois Man Wins Top Prize Playing the '500 Grand' Scratch Game

Daniel Valdez   Hear Daniel tell his story.

DES MOINES, Iowa - An Illinois salesman arrived early for an appointment Thursday in eastern Iowa and decided to stop at a convenience store for a sandwich and a lottery ticket and the decision paid off.

Daniel Valdez of East Galesburg, Ill. claimed the seventh of eight top prizes of $500,000 available in the Iowa Lottery's "500 Grand" instant-scratch game.

"The feeling right now is tremendous," Valdez told lottery employees as he claimed his prize Thursday afternoon at the lottery's headquarters in Des Moines. "Aside from my kids being born and marriage, this is probably one of the happiest days of my life."

Valdez said he was just looking for something to do as he waited to meet with a client and stopped at Casey's, 504 Fifth St. in Durant. He said he liked the color of the "500 Grand" scratch ticket and decided to buy one.

"Got the ticket, went back outside to my car, scratched it off and I couldn't believe it," he said. "You know what, I don't even know if I'm thinking right now. This is just amazing. I can't believe it. It's a dream come true."

The 34-year-old said he went back into the store to have his winning ticket verified and then he called his wife. She wanted him to send her a picture of the winning ticket, but the camera on his smartphone is broken.

"I told her right away and she still doesn't believe me," Valdez said. "She said, 'Oh, you're lying to me.'"

Valdez said his lottery winnings will be used to start college savings accounts for his 14-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.

"It's a great feeling knowing that they won't have to worry about college and neither will I," he said.

"500 Grand" is a $20 scratch game. If players match any "winning numbers" to any of "your numbers" in the play area on the front of each ticket, they win the prize shown for that number. If they find the "star" symbol they win that prize instantly, and if they find the "5X" symbol, they win five times the prize shown for that symbol. The overall odds of winning a prize in the game are 1 in 3.07.

One top prize of $500,000 is still up for grabs in the 500 Grand game, as well as three prizes of $10,000, 33 prizes of $1,000, 70 prizes of $500 and hundreds of prizes of $100.

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