(Pierre) - Just days before his winning ticket expired, Mark Klewicki of Rapid City claimed the $170,693 Dakota Cash jackpot he won in May.
Klewicki waited to claim the prize to surprise his family on Thanksgiving, returning a favor from earlier in the year. “I turned 40 this year and my wife had a big surprise party for me, so I guess this is a little bit about getting even,” he joked.
The jackpot-winning ticket matched all five numbers in the May 31, 2006 Dakota Cash drawing. Lotto prizes must be claimed within 180 days of the drawing. The ticket was set to expire on Monday, November 27.
Klewicki claimed his prize Wednesday afternoon at the Rapid City Lottery office after months of keeping his secret. “At first I didn’t know I’d won. This was the first ‘quick pick’ I’d ever bought, so it was a total fluke how it came about,” he said.
Klewicki is a regular player, but always picks his own numbers. But on May 31st, the clerk at the EZ Mart on Teewinot Drive in Rapid City offered him a quick pick. After some thought, he accepted. “And then I completely forgot about the ticket,” he said. He continued playing but only ever checked to see if his usual numbers matched.
It wasn’t until August that he realized he’d won the jackpot. A news story about the unclaimed jackpot prize prompted Klewicki to find and check his ticket. He kept the secret until last weekend when he let his wife in on his plans for the family Thanksgiving. “She didn’t believe me at all until I showed her a copy of the ticket. She hasn’t slept in four days,” he said.
The EZ Mart also has an extra reason to be thankful. The store will receive a $5,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.
Two other big prize winning tickets are still unclaimed. A Powerball ticket purchased in Spearfish won $200,000 in the July 1 drawing. That ticket expires Thursday, December 28. Another Dakota Cash jackpot, worth $210,037 was sold in Huron for the September 30 drawing. It expires March 29, 2007.