Dipping into the family cookie jar has never been as rewarding as it recently was for a Chicago-area man who stuck his hand in and pulled out a winning lottery ticket.
The cookie jar was actually the resting place for old lottery tickets and had grown full when Ricardo Cerezo’s wife asked him to dispose of the months’ old collection. She recommended he check them to see if there were any winners before he dumped them in the trash.
Ever the obedient husband, Ricardo carted them off to a local gas station to check the numbers for matches. Like a fairytale, it was the last ticket that changed his life. When he ran it through the lottery machine, the display read, ‘file a claim.’ He didn’t get a congratulatory message, nor did his winning ticket tell him how much he’d won. For that, he had to contact the Illinois lottery.
Imagine his surprise when he learned the ticket, which he’d purchased this past February was a $4.85 million winner!
Cerezo couldn’t have hit it big at a better time. The family was still reeling from the death of Ricardo’s 14 year old daughter Savannah, who died after a series of seizures. Add to that the fact that the family was facing foreclosure on their Geneva, Ill home and the money came in the nick of time.
It was Savannah who had purchased the cookie jar just months before her August 12 death. The family decided to keep the lottery tickets along with some sentimental keepsakes in the cookie jar. Winning had a bittersweet taste to it.
Ricardo says the good news would have been so much better had Savannah been alive to share in it. Still, he is at peace with it and believes his winning was a gift from Savannah.
The money will be used to pay off the mortgage and help pay for college. In spite of their good fortune, the Cerezo family plans to continue working.