(PIERRE) – Cheri Ludwig has been a lotto jackpot winner for two weeks but didn’t know it until just two days ago. The Watertown woman held the single winning ticket for the $82,988 Dakota Cash jackpot from the July 6, 2011 drawing.
On July 20, 2011, two weeks to the day since her win, Ludwig claimed her prize at the Sioux Falls Lottery office. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1:324,632.
The winning Quick Pick ticket was purchased at the Sioux Valley Co-Op/Cenex C-Store in Watertown; the business will receive a bonus of nearly $4,150 for selling the winning ticket. Ludwig, a school bus driver for special needs children during the school year and a semi truck driver during the summer, bought the ticket when she was home for the 4th of July weekend.
“I usually buy one ticket for each of the five lotto games when I gas up at Cenex which is normally once a week,” said Ludwig, who rarely purchases scratch tickets.
She usually checks her numbers right after the draw to see if she has any winners but this time, that wasn’t the case.
“I had to go right back to work the next day so I didn’t have time to check my tickets. When I’m driving truck, I’m on the road for weeks at a time so I wasn’t really thinking about whether I’d won or not,” she said.
Ludwig finally got back to town on July 18 and was heading to the lake with family members when they stopped at a local store to pick up some supplies. While she was there, she finally checked her lotto tickets and was shocked at the results.
“When I checked the Dakota Cash ticket, I got a ‘see retailer’ message so I took it up to the clerk. She asked me if I’d bought it at Cenex for the July 6th drawing. I said yeah and then she said ‘You may be our missing winner!’” said Ludwig.
While Ludwig may have bought the lucky ticket, her whole family is sharing in her good fortune. She is splitting the jackpot with her mother, Carolyn Ludwig of Castlewood, and is treating her daughter, Amanda, and other family members to a trip to Valleyfair. Ludwig also is planning some improvements at her home and her mother’s farm and says having the extra money to pay some bills is a “great stress reliever”.
While still numb from the win, Ludwig says she’ll keep picking up lotto tickets when she stops into Cenex for gas. And she has a few words of advice for those still waiting to win a jackpot.
“If you’re going to play, do it sensibly. Have fun. And be ready to be shocked when you win,” she said.
Dakota Cash is played and won only in South Dakota. The jackpot currently sits at $20,000 for the next drawing tonight.