The Minnesota Lottery has seen a surge in million-dollar payouts in recent days.
First, there was the annual New Year's Day awarding of two $1 million prizes claimed by two lucky players from the Twin Cities. On top of that, a Gopher 5 prize totaling $1.6 million from a drawing in mid-December also was claimed late last week. (And yes, the windfalls are taxed.)
Charles Wylie, 40, of Elko New Market, is one of two Minnesota Millionaire Raffle winners in the third year he's played the game.
"I didn't believe it — I could not believe it — I thought it was a glitch," Wylie recalled thinking after seeing his ticket number listed as a $1 million winner on the lottery website. Wylie bought his ticket at the Shell gas station at 14301 Nicollet Court in Burnsville.
Camhong Ly, 46, of Minneapolis, won the other $1 million Millionaire Raffle prize. Ly bought the ticket at the Cub Foods at 3245 County Road 10 in Brooklyn Center.
The raffle, begun in 2006, sells a limited number of tickets — this year capped at 700,000. Each ticket costs $10. Numbers are drawn to determine who wins cash or prizes such as vehicles, vacation packages, groceries and other payouts.
The $1.6 million Gopher 5 prize from the Dec. 16 drawing was mutually claimed by Paul and Jeb Paczynski, both of Hermantown. That ticket was bought at the Hermantown General Store at 5105 Morris Thomas Road.
While short of a million bucks, two other hefty sums were also claimed last week.
• Zulfiquar Punjani, 57, of Blaine, won $500,000 by playing the 100X scratch game. Super Day 2 at 2525 W. 7th St. in St. Paul sold the ticket.
• Brian Eggert of Elk River won $200,000 by playing the $200,000 Money Maker scratch game. The ticket was bought at the BP Amoco at 19696 Evans St. in Elk River.
Still unclaimed from last month in Minnesota are two $1 million Powerball prizes. One of those tickets was bought in Mankato and the other in Big Lake.