Lilia Martinez was grocery shopping with her sisters when she bought a $1 The Good Life instant lottery ticket — as is her custom every week at the same Jewel supermarket she’s been shopping at for more than 20 years. Previously, her largest win had been $20, but today, Illinois lottery officials presented her with her grand prize winnings – $1,040,000.
“I thought I won $1,000, and then my two sisters looked at the ticket and told me I won $1,000 every week for the next 20 years,” says Martinez in her native Spanish.
The resident of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, and her husband, José, both originally from Guanajuato Mexico, plan to invest for retirement and help their two sons pay for their education.
“This lottery win will make our lives easier,” says the 52-year-old housewife, who immigrated from Mexico 35 years ago. “First I will pay off our house, and then pay for college for my sons.”
She says her older son Eric, 29, has a bachelors degree in political science and history and dreams of getting a doctorate degree from The University of Chicago. Her younger son, Alan, 21, wants to be a mechanic, but she says she’s trying to convince him to pursue academic studies.
Her husband is a food and beverage manager at a local Embassy Suites hotel, and she says she feels good to finally be able to help him economically.
“I’m very excited,” says Martinez. “I can now help my husband and my kids.”