94-year-old double-checks granddaughter, realizes he won $6.5 million, lottery says

It’s a good thing this 94-year-old retired airman double-checked his granddaughter.

William Bowker, a former U.S. Air Force pilot and a regular lottery player, had purchased an Oregon Megabucks ticket — but when his granddaughter visited and checked to see if he’d won, she incorrectly cross-referenced the numbers, the Oregon Lottery said in a news release Friday.

“She thought it was a Mega Million ticket, and started circling matching numbers on the ticket,” Bowker said, according to the Oregon Lottery. “But they were for the wrong game. I had an Oregon’s Game Megabucks ticket. She got done, and later, I thought I should double-check it before throwing it away. I am glad I did. I immediately thought — BOOM! I won!”

The Oregon Lottery said his winning numbers were 14-32-41-43-44-47. He bought the ticket at a Jacksons Food Store in Happy Valley outside of Portland, according to lottery officials.

“You can still see where she circled the wrong numbers!” Bowker said, according to the lottery.

Bowker decided to take the lump sum payment of $3.25 million, which, after taxes, came out to $2.2 million, according to the lottery. He plans to share it with his family, with whom he consulted (including a daughter who is a tax attorney) before settling on how to take the money.

“I have what I need, and I’m 94,” Bowker said, according to the lottery. “This is a wonderful way to help my family.”

A spokesperson for the retailer that sold the ticket said the company is “thrilled.”

“Jacksons is thrilled for our customer to have won the lottery, and we are happy to be the retailer to sell the winning Oregon’s Game Megabucks ticket,” said Katrina Lemmon of Jacksons Food Stores, according to the lottery. “We are especially happy to find out the winner is a retired Air Force Pilot.”

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.