The lucky winner's wife will soon have some new wheels. The Wilsons also are planning to pay some bills with the winnings and to save some for their daughters' future college expenses.
Gary Wilson went back to work this week, but unlike his co-workers the Mayetta resident had a little more in his Christmas stocking than he had anticipated.
A total of $441,973 to be exact.
Wilson is the most recent winner of the Kansas Cash jackpot, which he won Dec. 23 after purchasing a $2 Quick Pick Kansas Cash ticket.
"I don't play every week, just off and on for the last five or six years," Wilson said.
Wilson picked up the winning ticket at Hagen Retail Liquor in Topeka. He watched the news and at first thought he had five of the six numbers. Upon further inspection, his wife, Debbie, realized that Wilson had matched all six of the numbers.
"Then, the hollering and screaming started," he said.
Wilson is enjoying his newfound wealth but said he isn't going to make any drastic changes.
"I'll tell you the truth; I went back to work to get back to normalcy," Wilson said. "It feels great."
Neither Wilson nor his wife plan to quit their jobs, but Debbie Wilson will soon be driving a new Jeep Cherokee.
"We live out in the country and she got stuck four times last winter," Wilson said.
As for the rest of the money, Wilson paid some bills and is meeting with a financial adviser next week. Part of the money will be used to finance college for Wilson's two daughters, Nicole, 15, and Heather, 11.
Though Wilson's earnings look impressive, he didn't get them all.
"The government gets their hands on it first," he said.
After taxes Wilson brought home about $296,000.
Sara Leslie's jackpot was smaller, but the Lawrence resident who won $30,000 on a Kansas scratch-off ticket in October was excited when she learned of her fortune.
"It really hasn't changed me," she said. "It's not that much money. I'm the same old person I've always been."
Leslie bought her ticket at the Miller Mart on Second Street, where she works.
After taxes she brought home $20,100. She used the money to buy furniture and has loaned some to friends and relatives.
"The only down side is that it's not enough money to loan to everyone," she said.
Leslie's generosity has already paid off.
When a friend who borrowed $30 brought the money in to the store to pay Leslie back, Leslie used part of it to buy another scratch-off ticket.
She won another $500.
Even so, she warns other winners against spending too much money on more lottery games.
"Don't get carried away with your money by spending it on more lottery tickets," she said. "It sure doesn't last long."
Most lottery winners can't believe they've won until they take their tickets to lottery headquarters in Topeka and have the tickets validated, Kansas Lottery Public Information Officer Jane Elliott said.
"They always get excited," she said. "They can't believe they've won. They always look at the ticket a second time."
Kansas Cash winners receive one lump-sum payment, while Powerball winners have a choice of accepting an annuity over 25 years or taking the cash that's available in the prize pool. The annuity includes interest earned on the prize, but some people choose to invest the money on their own, Elliott said.
"The majority of people who win share it with their families, and then they invest for retirement," she said.
Most people who win have played the lottery in the past, though not all play it on a regular basis, Elliott said.
"They play to win," she said. "It's that chance to win money. It's a dream to win and do something special with the money. And it's a form of entertainment."
Wilson expects to continue playing the lottery from time to time but doesn't think he'll win big again.
"More than likely it's a one-shot deal," he said. "I'm just going to enjoy it."
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.