'Lucky' Lottery Ticket Mistake Leads To $390,000 In Winnings

He chose to accept his winnings as a lump-sum payout.

A cartoon of a man's hands triumphantly in the air as dollar bills and coins are thrown around.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A visit to his favorite restaurant and what the Michigan Lottery called a "lucky mistake" led to a man taking home nearly $400,000 this fall. 

"I come to Michigan every few weeks to eat at my favorite restaurant and I always get a Lucky for Life ticket for 10 or 20 draws while I’m here," Michael Sopejstal explained to the Michigan Lottery news service. "I asked the retailer for a ticket for 10 draws, but he accidentally printed a ticket with 10 lines for one draw, but I told him I still wanted it."

With a Lucky For Life ticket, you pay $2 for the chance to win various prizes, with a top prize of $1,000 a day for life if you match all five winning numbers and the Lucky Ball. Sopejstal didn't quite get that — his ticket missed the Lucky Ball — but it still turned into a pretty good return. With the numbers on his $20 ticket, he won $25,000 a year for 20 years or for life, whichever is greater. 

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Like most lottery winners, Sopejstal chose to get his winnings as a lump sum rather than an annuity, which added up to $390,000. He plans to use the money for travel and savings, he told Michigan Lottery.

It's important to remember, of course, that if you win the lottery, you have to pay taxes. Powerball winners get a hefty tax bill, while the Mega Millions jackpot after taxes drops considerably from the advertised winnings. 

But it's still fun to dream, isn't it? With Sopejstal looking to use his money for travel, there are some great places to visit where the dollar is strong all around the world. With what he has left for his savings, he could look into some of the best high-yield savings accounts to grow it. 

Or, he could follow Kiplinger senior investing writer Dan Burrows' advice on investing a jackpot, which involves what he calls "the laziest and easiest way to invest such an obscene amount of money."

Here's to dreaming — and lucky mistakes!

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Alexandra Svokos
Senior Digital Editor

Alexandra Svokos is the senior digital editor of Kiplinger. She holds an MBA from NYU Stern in finance and management and a BA in economics and creative writing from Columbia University. Alexandra has a decade of experience in journalism, specializing in online newsrooms. She previously served as the senior editor of digital for ABC News, where she directed daily news coverage across topics through major events of the early 2020s for the network's website. Before that, she pioneered politics and election coverage for Elite Daily and went on to serve as the senior news editor for that group. 

Alexandra was recognized with an "Up & Comer" award at the 2018 Folio: Top Women in Media awards, and she was asked twice by the Nieman Journalism Lab to contribute to their annual journalism predictions feature. She has also been asked to speak on panels and give presentations on the future of media, including by the Center for Communication and Twipe.