U.S. Air Force veteran William Bowker is flying high after winning a $6.5 million lottery jackpot in Oregon on Friday.
“I had a good feeling the night I bought the ticket,” the 94-year-old told TODAY, noting that he has played Oregon’s Game Megabucks every week since it launched in 1985.
Bowker almost didn't claim his prize. When his granddaughter Katie Schumacher checked his numbers, she mistakenly looked at the Mega Millions drawing. But luck was on Bowker's side and the next morning, while reading the newspaper, he took another look.
"My numbers were right there!" he said. "I couldn't believe my eyes."
Bowker chose the the lump sum payment over annuity. After taxes, he took home $2.2 million. A Jacksons Food Store in Happy Valley, Oregon will receive $65,000 for selling the winning ticket, according to a press release.
Bowker, who describes himself as "a simple" man, lives in a double-wide trailer with his wife, Jean, and has no desire to move. His children Larry, 70, and Dianna, 67, live about a mile down the road and he likes socializing in his mobile park.
“Jean and I, we’re as happy as we can be,” Bowker explained. “We want to stay here. We’ve got neighbors and we all holler over the fence. My daughter brings dinner.”
Though the couple will be staying put, Bowker said he would like a new vehicle.
“Nothing fancy. I walk with a cane so I want to buy a car that's comfortable and easy to get in and out of,” Bowker said. “My kids are trying to talk me into a sports car!"
In the meantime, Bowker looks forward to spoiling his family. He just gave Schumacher the gift of a landscaper so her little ones have a safe place to play.
“Katie doesn’t have grass in her backyard, it’s all rocks,” Bowker revealed. “So she’s going to get artificial turf, some plants and a new patio table. She’s so tickled. She can’t wait.”
Bowker predicts his life will stay pretty much the same. Jean has dementia and he is her primary caretaker.
“We began going together when she was 15 and I was 16, and we still make each other smile," he said. “She’s sick but she’s still laughing and joking. She’s the sweetest woman I know.”