Thanks to a second chance drawing, a pair of South Dakota Lottery players will ring in the new year in New York and could return as a millionaire.
Julie Plunkett of Kranzburg and Kelly Engen of Brookings were named South Dakota's winners of the New Year's Rockin' Eve promotion. The South Dakota Lottery, along with other lotteries in the U.S., participated in this second chance drawing which allowed players to enter non-winning Powerball tickets.
The prize for the second chance drawing includes an all-expenses paid trip to Times Square for New Year's Eve, as well as entry into an additional drawing to become 2020's first millionaire. The winner of the million-dollar drawing will be announced on ABC's New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast.
For both Plunkett and Engen, the second chance drawing caught their attention immediately. Engen was browsing the South Dakota Lottery's website to check the winning numbers, while Plunkett's husband, Dale, alerted her of a chance of a lifetime.
"My husband is actually the one who told me about it, and he knew I would be excited." Plunkett said. "Going to New York to watch the ball drop is one of those bucket list things that you think about but never think you'll have the chance to do."
"(The promotion) was on the website, which I check out quite a bit to see if I have a winning number on my tickets," Engen said. "I saw that there was an app that you could download. I decided that I might as well try it and started scanning tickets for the second chance."
Plunkett and her husband were traveling to Savannah, Ga., when she learned the good news. A call she thought was meaningless quickly led to jubilation.
"We had just got to Savannah, and my phone rang," Plunkett said. "It said it was from Pierre, and I told my husband 'Oh it's another robo call. You know what, we're in the car, I'm just going to answer it.' I answered and it was the Lottery office telling me that I had won. I couldn't believe it. I was just in shock."
Plunkett's husband will be her guest on the trip, as New York holds a special place in the couple's heart. She notes that Dale proposed to her at the Statue of Liberty, and that she's already looking forward to making some new memories throughout the Big Apple.
"I am looking forward to Rockefeller Center and seeing the Christmas tree lit up in person," Plunkett said. "We always see it on television so it will be excited to see that. Believe it or not, my husband and I saw the Rockettes a few years back, and they put on an amazing show. I'm really excited to see that again. I'm curious about the Hudson cruise and what that will entail. I can only imagine how beautiful it's going to be at that time of year."
This also won't be Engen's first trip to New York. While he has experienced some of the sites throughout the city, he and his brother, Dwight, are looking forward to experiencing even more this time around.
"Years ago when I was in basic training, we were in New Jersey and we had a couple days of leave," Engen said. "We went to New York to see the Yankees play. I got to walk up the main drag so many blocks, but I didn't get to see a whole lot of New York. This will be way better. I will get to experience what New York is all about."
Engen's second venture to New York is one that was met with disbelief at first. Engen notes that the second chance drawing hadn't really crossed his mind once he entered, but he was reminded of it in exciting fashion.
"I basically kind of forgot about the contest," Engen said. "It was kind of funny because I was looking at my email on my phone and was wondering if I was reading this right. I wasn't quite believing it. It really didn't sink in until I got the prize affidavit in the mail. I was just kind of shocked at first."
While both of South Dakota's winners are looking forward to spending the new year in New York, both can't help but think about their chance to kick off the new year by becoming a millionaire to kick off the new year. Each will be one of about 300 contestants with a chance of becoming 2020's first big winner.
"It would be fantastic to become the first millionaire of 2020," Plunkett said. "My children already have it all spent if that were to happen."
"I think about what I would do if I did win," Engen said."A guy always thinks about what you need to put away, and there's always some nice toys a guy would like to buy. I don't want to jump the gun too early though. You come up with different things though. I think about it each day."
While other South Dakota Lottery players no longer have a shot at ringing in 2020 in Times Square, Engen did offer some advice for his fellow players when it comes to the Lottery's many second chance drawings.
"Get the app and scan your tickets," Engen said. "Don't think you can't win because it can happen."