(PIERRE) - Jerry E. Jensen of Aberdeen has been playing the same Dakota Cash numbers since the game began. And after 18 years, they finally paid off.
On March 16, 2011, Jensen claimed the $36,514 Dakota Cash jackpot for the Feb. 23, 2011 drawing at the Pierre Lottery office. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1:324,632.
The winning ticket was purchased at the South C Store in Aberdeen, which will receive a bonus of $1,825.70 for selling the ticket. Jensen, who regularly plays nearly all of South Dakota's five lotto games along with the occasional $5 instant scratch ticket, is a frequent customer to the store, picking up not only lottery tickets but his tea and a newspaper there daily.
It was on his trip in for a newspaper the morning after the drawing that Jensen found out he was a jackpot winner.
"Linda (the clerk) asked me if I had bought a Dakota Cash ticket and I said, yep, same as I always do. Then she told me they had sold the winning ticket so I tried it in the machine and it said 'retailer cannot pay'. The owner's son checked it, and then Linda checked it, too, and we all agreed it was a winner. So the first thing I did was flip it over and fill it out," said Jensen.
Wanting to make sure he kept it in a safe place until the weather cleared up enough for a trip to Pierre to cash it in, Jensen's first thought was his safety deposit box. But getting it there wasn't as easy as he thought it would be.
"The lady at the bank who usually takes care of the safety deposit boxes was having a baby and the one who backs her up was out with the flu," he explained. "So I had to wait until Monday to put it there for safekeeping."
The retired Jensen first shared the news of his $36,514 jackpot win with his mother, and plans to share some of his winnings with the younger members of his family - his great nieces and nephews.
"I'm going to start a college fund for each of them. I've got seven right now and another one coming in June," Jensen said.
He says he may also invest a portion of the winnings, and a trip to Yellowstone park could be in the future, too. After 18 years of waiting for the big win, will he keep trying his luck?
"Well, they say you can't win if you don't play. I believe I'd have to agree with that," Jensen replied.
Dakota Cash is played and won only in South Dakota. The jackpot currently sits at $40,000 for the next drawing on Sat., March 19, 2011.