Press Room

Mason City Man Wins Belated $1 Million Birthday Present

Lonnie Sandberg Claims Prize from Tuesday Mega Millions® Drawing

Lottery CEO Terry Rich presents ceremonial check to Lonnie Sandberg.
  Hear Lonnie tell his story.

DES MOINES, Iowa - A Mason City man says he just got the most unexpected belated birthday gift: a $1 million Mega Millions prize.

Lonnie Sandberg said he checked his numbers online Tuesday night after the Mega Millions drawing, and then checked them again and again because he couldn't believe his eyes.

"I just happened to check them that night - I normally don't do that," he said Friday as he claimed his big prize at lottery headquarters in Des Moines. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I'm still in shock."

Sandberg, who just turned 50 in late September, said once he realized how much he'd won, he needed some time to think. So he took a couple days away to consult with family for some financial advice.

Sandberg, who is single, said so far his brothers are the only ones who know about his win.

"I just knew I needed to go slowly and think things through," he said. "I'm planning to invest most of the money. There are things that go through your mind, but I want to have a good plan with it. I'm still in disbelief."

He joked that he may be in trouble with his mom, who he hadn't told before claiming the prize.

"So, Mom, if you're watching … sorry!" he said with a sheepish smile. "I talked to my brothers first because my brothers have a better background in investing than I do, so I went to them for advice."

Sandberg, who inspects and loads product at a Mason City food distribution service, says he expects he'll be getting a little more attention now that he's won $1 million.

"That's one of the reasons I've been out of town!" he said with a laugh.

Sandberg said he did work for a time on Wednesday after realizing he'd won the big prize, but admits to being more than a little distracted on the job, so he took some time away. He said he will continue working and knows his co-workers will be surprised.

"I wanted to have a plan before I told anyone and I knew that if I stayed at work I would end up telling someone!" he said.

Sandberg says he enjoys playing lotto games and buys one ticket each week for the Mega Millions, Powerball® and Hot Lotto® drawings. He said he's always added the multipliers to his lotto tickets, knowing it would multiple any prizes he might win.

"I've never gotten a check with so many zeros on it," he said as he looked at his ceremonial check when he was presented with his big prize.

Sandberg purchased his ticket at Mills Fleet Farm, 3200 Fourth St. S.W. in Mason City, the spot where he regularly buys his tickets.

Sandberg's ticket matched the first five numbers but missed the Mega Ball to win a $250,000 prize. Since he added the Megaplier® option to his ticket, his won a $1 million prize. All Match 5 Megaplier prizes are $1 million, regardless of the Megaplier number drawn.* The Match 5 Megaplier change was just made in the game on Sept. 14, and Sandberg became Iowa's first million-dollar winner to benefit from the new system.

Players can add the Megaplier option to Mega Millions purchases for an extra $1 per play. The Megaplier multiplies all other non-jackpot prizes by 2, 3 or 4.

At the same time that Sandberg was claiming his prize in Des Moines, a $250,000 prize also won in Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing was being claimed at the lottery's Council Bluffs office. That ticket matched the first five numbers but did not have the multiplier option. That ticket was claimed by three people: Michael Hamm and Kelcey Stubbe of Sioux City and Jacquelyn Bruening of New Castle, Neb.

Their Mega Millions ticket was purchased at Hy-Vee, 4500 Sergeant Road in Sioux City.

No one won Tuesday's $23 million Mega Millions jackpot, so the prize increases to an estimated $32 million for Friday's drawing.

Prize: $1 million
Federal withholding: $250,000
State withholding: $50,000
Net amount: $700,000