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Special Event

Seller of 'Big Game' Winner Presented with $1.8 Million

Aired May 10, 2000 - 11:35 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have some very fun live pictures to show you. Let's take you to Lake Zurich, Illinois. This is where the director of the Chicago lottery is presenting the check to the store owner where the winning ticket in Illinois was sold.

Let's go ahead and listen to Lori Montana.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

LORI MONTANA, ILLINOIS LOTTERY: ... $363 million. A slight adjustment there. In Illinois, the retailer, our partner -- and we have, oh, almost 7,000 retailers who sell our online and instant tickets, and another almost 2,000 that just sell instant. All of them are wonderful business partners and we are so proud to be affiliated and associated with them.

But today is a very, very special day here in Lake Zurich because we are presenting the largest check to a retailer, of course, that we have ever presented. So on behalf of the Illinois Lottery and all of our employees and all of our business partners, John Sweeney, may I give you this check? It looks a little sloppy and the real one comes in the mail to the Sweeney Corporation for $1.8 million, with our congratulations and sincere thanks for being a lottery retailer. For you.

JOHN SWEENEY, SWEENEY CORPORATION: Oh, my pleasure.

(APPLAUSE)

Can I bring this to the bank now? Will they accept it?

MONTANA: You keep that, yes. It's good for something.

SWEENEY: Actually, I'm going to put it in the bank, pay off a couple of bills, and I think myself and all of our associate here at Sweeney Oil, we're going to have a nice party this week.

QUESTION: John, can you tell us how you learned of this and what your reactions were?

SWEENEY: Well, I got a call from my mother this morning stating that she heard on the radio that a ticket -- the winning ticket was sold in Lake Zurich, and she said she was just trying to alert me to that fact. And she said she called my sister and said, Jeannie (ph), start saying a novena. So it was her anniversary yesterday and, you know, mom, thank you very much.

But it was very exciting. And then I really heard the accurate news when the Lottery called this morning and said we did sell the winning ticket. So it's a pleasure to accept this check, and we will do good things with it. We run a muscular dystrophy outing up in Midlane Country Club, and I'm sure we're going to break our records this year in fund-raising. So we at Sweeney Oil are very, very excited. And we also sell lubricants, so -- industrial lubricants. Anyway, I don't believe I could buy this kind of coverage on a normal basis, so it's a very pleasant thing.

MONTANA: Well, congratulations.

If I may take one moment, I would like to share -- if I can give this. It's yours.

SWEENEY: Oh, thank you.

MONTANA: I'd like to share with you the towns. We did have 12 winners...

KAGAN: We've been listening in in Lake Zurich, Illinois. That was John Sweeney. He owns Sweeney Citgo. That is where the winning Big Game ticket was sold in Illinois. The way the rules work in Illinois, that store owner gets 1 percent of the winnings. And so John Sweeney gets a check for $1.8 million. To put that into perspective for you, he says that is equal to 10 years of profits from all the eight stores that he owns. So that money is going to come in handy. He says put most of it in the bank and throw a big party for all of his associates that work at the Citgo gas station there.

Other Big Game ticket in Michigan -- it was sold.

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