Last February, a judge gave Richard Cerezo (pictured) and his family just a few months to move out of their Geneva, Ill., home. They were facing foreclosure.
As they packed for the fateful day they would be forced to leave their home, Cerezo and his wife stumbled upon a bunch of old lottery tickets in a glass cookie jar. When he took the tickets to a 7-Eleven to check them, one was worth $4.85 million, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Upon finding the tickets, Cerezo’s wife warned him to either check the tickets or she would just throw them away. So he took the tickets to a local 7-Eleven in Aurora. After checking the first nine tickets, Cerezo says he came up empty. But his luck took an exciting turn.
“The following one was $3, so I was excited,” he said. “I get to pay for my Pepsi. And then the last one said file a claim,” which meant it was worth at least $600.
The management consultant went online and found that his lotto ticket numbers matched the Feb. 2 drawing. As Cerezo began scanning the numbers one by one, he kept getting matches. With each match, Cerezo’s heartbeats intensified. The ecstatic husband and father told the Tribune, “When I realized we had all six numbers, it was that shocking moment of, ‘Whoa, can this really be?’ Fast forward to the next day, Monday: Called in sick from work, went down into Chicago. It’s one of those feelings where it’s OK if they fire me.”
When Cerezo hightailed down to the Chicago lottery office, officials kept him waiting for about half an hour. Eventually, someone appeared to announce his windfall of $4.85 million. Upon hearing that he had won the money, all Cerezo could think about was that fretful day last February when the judge told him that he and his family would be evicted.
“That was on Feb. 12, so we were sitting on $4 million at that time in this jar,” he said. “We will have our home paid off.”
Besides February being the month when the ticket was purchased, the 28-day period has another special meaning for the Cerezo family. The Cerezo’s lost their 14-year-old daughter, Savannah, last year due to a sudden illness; February was her birth month.
According to Cerezo, his winnings made him realize one major thing, “I just thought, this is how God works.”