GENEVA, Ill. (CBS) – The timing couldn’t have been better for a family from north suburban Geneva when they hit the jackpot after finding some old Lotto tickets stuffed in a cookie jar.
Earlier this month, Ricardo Cerezo said his wife was cleaning the kitchen in the home they were about to lose to foreclosure. She told him to take the old Lottery tickets out of the jar and have them checked, or toss them out.
“It was either take them, get them checked, or she was going to trash them that night,” he said.
So he took the tickets to a local gas station to get them scanned. The first 8 or 9 tickets weren’t winners.
“The following one was $3, so I was excited. I get to pay for my Pepsi. And then the last one said file a claim,” he said.
Cerezo went online to check the ticket, and couldn’t believe it when the numbers matched the Feb. 2 Lotto drawing.
“As each number kept matching, the smile kept going higher and higher, and when I realized we had all six numbers, it was that shocking moment of ‘Whoa, can this really be?’” he said. “Fast forward to the next day, Monday; called in sick from work, went down into Chicago. It’s one of feelings where it’s okay if they fire me.”
He visited the Lottery offices in Chicago, and learned he’d won $4.85 million.
Just three months before finding the winning ticket, Cerezo stood before a judge at a foreclosure hearing for their home. He was given a few more months to find a new home before they would be evicted.
“That was on February 12th, so we were sitting on $4 million at that time in this jar,” he said.
Cerezo said the family plans to pay off their home loan, get new cars, and give some of the winnings to charity.