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Iowa City Man Wins Prize of $25,000 A Year For Life In Lucky For Life® Game

Charles Svatos Is Iowa's Third Big Winner In Multi-State Game

Charles Svatos

CLIVE, Iowa – An Iowa City grandfather who claimed a prize of $25,000 a year for life says a fortune cookie predicted his big lottery win.

Charles "Chuck" Svatos said he bought a fortune cookie while he was at a Quad Cities casino last month and the message inside the cookie said, "You will discover an unexpected treasure."

Svatos, a retired dairy production worker, claims the "treasure" the fortune cookie spoke of was his lottery prize of $25,000 a year for life he won in the Sept. 25 Lucky for Life drawing. He still carries his fortune from that cookie with him in his wallet and shared it with lottery employees Tuesday as he claimed his prize at the lottery's headquarters in Clive.

"It's hard to believe a fortune cookie, you can never believe them most of the time," Svatos said.

Svatos' ticket matched the first five numbers but missed the Lucky Ball in that drawing to win the game's second prize of $25,000 a year for life. He bought his winning ticket at Gasby's, 1 Hawkeye Drive in North Liberty, a convenience store he stops at most Sundays for coffee and to buy lottery tickets. Gasby's will receive a $500 bonus from the lottery for selling the winning ticket at one of its stores.

The winning numbers in that night's Lucky for Life drawing were: 14-17-19-30-48 and Lucky Ball 4.

He said he found out that he won when he had his ticket checked at Gasby's about a week after the drawing and kept the news to himself.

"Just the guy that sold me the ticket. He's the only one that knew," Svatos said.

Svatos later told his daughter, Doris Baxter of North Liberty, that he won and asked her if she could go with him to Clive to claim his prize. She agreed and accompanied her father through the prize claim process at the lottery Tuesday.

Svatos said he always picks his own numbers, but he doesn't stick to one set of numbers and the numbers he uses are not significant to him.

"I just pick them at random," he said.

Players can win Lucky for Life's top prize of $1,000 a day for life by matching all six numbers selected in one of its drawings. The game's second prize – for matching the first five numbers but missing the Lucky Ball – is $25,000 a year for life. The game's top two prize levels are described as "lasting as long as you do" meaning that they are truly for life. The minimum guaranteed payout for those two prize levels is 20 years, and there is a lump-sum option for players who prefer that.

Svatos, 92, chose to receive his prize as a lump sum of $390,000. He said he plans to use a portion of his winnings to travel possibly to Hawaii and Switzerland in the future.

Iowa is one of 23 states to offer Lucky for Life. Sales in Lucky for Life started in January 2016 in Iowa. Svatos is the state's third big winner in the game since its Iowa start. Kevin Reynolds of Bettendorf and Roy King of Sioux City have also won prizes of $25,000 a year for life in the game.

Lucky for Life is a $2 game with drawings twice a week, at 9:38 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. Players choose five numbers from a pool of 48 for the white ball and 1 out of 18 numbers for the Lucky Ball.

The odds of winning Lucky for Life's top prize are about 1 in 30.8 million, as compared to odds of about 1 in 292.2 million of winning the Powerball® jackpot; and odds of about 1 in 259 million of winning the Mega Millions® jackpot.

Prize: $25,000 a year for life
Chosen to receive as: Cash option of $390,000
Federal withholding: $97,500
State withholding: $19,500
Net amount: $273,000

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