Illinois Chaplain Finds $1M Powerball Ticket in Desk

(Image credit: Illinois Lottery)

A retired chaplain in Illinois found a $1 million winning lottery ticket when he was cleaning his desk, two months after the winning numbers were announced.

Ron Yurcus of Glen Ellyn, Ill. said he doesn't usually buy lottery tickets.

"Occasionally while I buy gas, if the [lottery] prize is higher, I'll buy one or two tickets," Yurcus, 68, said.

Yurcus, a retired hospice chaplain, said he had accumulated about 12 tickets within two months, but didn't check to see if any were winners until a few weeks ago.

"I bought them and never really rush home and check numbers right away. I throw them in a pile," he said.

When he was cleaning his desk, which he called "a cluttered mess," he sifted through his pile of tickets and was pleasantly surprised to learn he not only had a couple tickets that won $2 but a $1 million Powerball drawing prize from the Aug. 22 drawing.

"When I went to the payoff page and saw $1 million, I wanted to scream but no one was home," he said, then checking the number about 25 times that night and asking his wife, a school secretary, to re-check the numbers once she returned home.

Yurcus used to be self-employed with a print shop in addition to serving at the hospice, before retiring Nov. 2.

"I don't really have a retirement package put together. This is my retirement," he said. He and his wife are also active with charitable causes. He said he will use some winnings to support his three children and four grandchildren.

Yurcus, who wanted to be a priest when he was younger, also hopes to continue working part-time as a chaplain. As a permanent deacon in his Catholic church, he can baptize and marry people, but can't hear confessions.

When asked if he will continue buying lottery tickets casually, Yurcus said he doesn't promote it.

"Being in ministry, it saddens me seeing people spending large amounts of money on things they can't afford," he said.

He cautions people to "use the lottery wisely."

"It's a fun thing but the odds are against you. This is so surreal. That's why people tell me they have never met anyone who has won $1 million," he said.

The Illinois Lottery presented the BP Glen Ellyn gas station with a ceremonial bonus check for $10,000 for selling the winning ticket.

The Powerball jackpot, which starts at $40 million, has been rolling since October 6 and stood at $185 million as of Wednesday. Powerball has contributed an estimated $120 million to the Illinois Common School Fund and Capital Projects Fund.