ALEXANDRIA, Minn. - What would you do with a million dollars?
The age-old game that everyone likes to play while fantasizing about early retirement and beach vacations became a quick reality for two Douglas County, Minn., residents.
Longtime friends Gail Murray, of Carlos, Minn., and Cal Stueve, of Alexandria, had their lives drastically changed on July 28 with a single scratch-off ticket.
“It’s kind of a tradition,” Murray said. Once a month, Murray and Stueve would go in together on a $50 scratch off ticket at Jerry’s Bar and Grill in Alexandria, which is owned by Murray. When the first one wasn’t a winner, Stueve suggested they buy one more.
“I told him I wasn’t sure I could afford that,” said Murray with a burst of laughter. “But I told him he’s not buying it without me!”
As Murray started to scratch off the second ticket, needing three of a kind to win, she exposed two $1,000,000 icons.
“You know how it is when you have two of a kind,” she said, rolling her eyes. “You figure the third one will be $50.”
What happened next caused Murray to lose her breath.
She scratched the final section, revealing the third $1,000,000 icon.
“She couldn’t talk or breathe for a couple minutes,” Stueve laughed. “We called the lottery office right away. I wouldn’t believe it until I had the check in my hands!”
The friends verified the numbers on the ticket as the news quickly traveled throughout the community. Within two hours of pulling the winning ticket, Stueve said that he was running into people who already knew of his big win before he had the chance to tell them.
Later in the week, the duo traveled to Roseville to collect their winnings from the Minnesota State Lottery office. The million dollar ticket was actually good for $1,476,000. After taxing out 32.5 percent, both Murray and Stueve left $500,000.08 richer.
“It still hasn’t settled with me,” Murray said. “I’m still in the surreal world.”
“It hit me on Saturday when I wrote my first big check,” Stueve added, stating he paid off his house that day. “My hand was shaking!”
So, what are they going to do with the money?
While Murray is dreaming about trips to Alaska and Stueve jokes about getting a fresh paint job for his rusted out truck, both parties clearly show a more humble mission they have.
“The biggest thing for me is being able to help my mom,” Stueve said.
“I have a sister with multiple sclerosis,” Murray added. “I’ll be able to help her.”
While the friends agree that the money they have come into is life changing, the duo can still be found enjoying beer and good company at Jerry’s.