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Utah Resident’s Hobby Wins Him $3 Million Prize in Idaho

J. Refugio Gonzalez Almeida

Drawing Date: 7/4/2023

August 11, 2023 - Ahead of the 4th of July, Utah resident J. Refugio Gonzalez Almeida made two trips from Utah to Malad, Idaho to make sure he had Mega Millions® tickets for the then $400 million Mega Millions jackpot draw. The decision to visit the second time over the weekend turned into a $3,000,000 windfall.

“Playing the Lottery is my hobby. When I didn’t win the jackpot on that Friday, I thought ‘I need a ticket for the 4th of July,’ so I drove back to Malad on Saturday,” described Almeida on purchasing his ticket over the long, holiday weekend. He had smaller winning tickets, so he cashed those and reinvested the winnings. “I bought all the games, including Mega Millions. I had a lot tickets.”

On the Mega Millions draw for the Fourth of July, which coincidently is his birthday, Almeida’s ticket matched the first five numbers but not the Megaball.  It also had the Megaplier feature. The Megaplier number for that draw was 3, turning his $1,000,000 winning ticket into a $3,000,000 winner.

A month later, he returned to Malad to check all his tickets. “I had $2, $8, not a lot. And then they scanned this one and told me I had to take it to the [Idaho] Lottery Commission. So here I am!” Almeida declared with a smile as he held his $3,000,000 winning check.

Almeida plans to invest his winnings.  “I am taking this right to the bank and depositing it!” he said.

The Mega Millions jackpot eventually climbed to a game record $1.58 billion this past Tuesday evening. Since July 1, Mega Millions generated approximately $3,000,000 for the Idaho Lottery’s beneficiaries, Idaho public schools and buildings.