HELENA – Wanda Guzman, 66, once won $50 in one day playing the Montana Lottery.
“The clerk was really happy for me,” the Great Falls grandmother said.
That was really nothing compared to the prize Guzman claimed Tuesday at the Montana Lottery headquarters in Helena. Guzman became the one player in 30.8 million to win the top $1,000 a day for life prize in the Lucky for Life Lotto game, an experience she described as “surreal.”
Guzman is the first Montanan to ever win the top prize in Lucky for Life, which is sold by 26 U.S. lotteries. Montana began selling the game in 2015.
There is no maximum amount Guzman could end up winning. Under the rules of the game, top prize winners receive $1,000 a day for as long as they are alive. If a winner passes away before 20 years, their beneficiary receives $1,000 a day until 20 years after the date the prize was first claimed. Guzman’s prize is worth at least $7.3 million.
Guzman bought her winning ticket as part of The Works, a Montana Lottery product that bundles all the Lotto games the state sells into one purchase. Guzman said she’s been buying The Works regularly for months and she always buys at the Holiday Stationstore on Northwest Bypass in Great Falls.
She was visiting her daughter in Billings this week when news came out that someone in Montana had won the top Lucky for Life prize.
Her sister in Great Falls called Guzman and told her someone had won. And they had bought the ticket at the Holiday on Northwest Bypass.
“That’s our store,” Guzman said.
The ticket was in Great Falls, but Guzman’s sister had it and read the numbers over the phone to her. Guzman checked them against the computer. And with each number, she got a little more excited.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Guzman said.
Guzman said she has no immediate plans for the prize.
“Just pay bills and enjoy life,” she said.
The Montana Lottery was created by referendum in 1986. Since then, it has paid over $590 million in prizes and returned approximately $259 million to the State of Montana.