Man carries winning lottery ticket around for days — then realizes he was ‘big winner’

A man who “forgot” he bought Michigan lottery tickets walked around with them in his wallet for days — even as the whole town talked about “the big winner” that was sold at the same store he purchased the ticket from.

Gregory DiFranks matched the Fantasy 5 numbers in the state’s Jan. 30 drawing, Michigan Lottery officials said in a Feb. 9 news release.

The 63-year-old Lake Orion man bought the ticket at the Orion Market while he grabbed a few other items, officials said.

“The next day, I was at my local bar, and someone asked where Orion Market was because they had sold a big winner,” DiFranks said in the release. “I forgot I’d purchased tickets, so I didn’t think much of it.”

He “came across the tickets” a few days later as he sorted through his wallet, officials said. He took them to a store to scan them for a prize, and one of the Fantasy 5 tickets indicated he should file a claim at the lottery office.

“The person working scanned the ticket on the Lottery app for me and said: ‘You have the big winner!’” he said. “I called my wife and told her I was on my way home and I had big news to tell her!”

DiFranks plans to use some of his $140,964 prize on a trip to Mexico and save whatever is leftover, he told officials at lottery headquarters as he claimed his winnings.

“I’ve been playing the Lottery since it began, so it feels amazing to hit it big,” he said.

Each Fantasy 5 ticket is $1, and for another $1 per play, EZmatch is added to the ticket, which gives players a chance to win up to $500, officials said. Players can add Double Play for another $1, which gives them a “second chance to win up to $110,000 in the nightly Double Play drawing.”

Drawings are held every day, officials said. Players choose five numbers between one and 39.

Players who match all five numbers win a jackpot that starts at $100,000, officials said. DiFranks’ winning numbers were 05-09-17-31-39.

Lake Orion is about 35 miles north of downtown Detroit.

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