Glen and Cathy Von Wagoner of Midway, Utah, have owned a home in Mesquite for three years and travel between the two homes at least once a month.
It was the trip they took in September they’ll always remember. They won $1 million in the Arizona lottery. But they didn’t realize it for weeks.
Lori Black, owner of the Beaver Dam Lodge, sold the winning ticket only a month after having the lottery machines installed in her historic lodge. Black said she included the sales of Arizona Lottery tickets to draw people to the newly renovated property. Installing the lottery was purely a business maneuver and nobody ever really expected any big winners so soon, but Black said, “I cannot be more excited and happy that installing this machine has had such a great impact on the lives of these two wonderful people, I wish all of my customers could win.”
The Von Wagoners were planning the trip to Mesquite in September and among the many things they planned was to stop in Arizona for some Powerball tickets; they felt all the large jackpots warranted giving it a try; they rarely buy tickets and it was even more rare that all of the drawings has such large jackpots.
Glen Von Wagoner told the MLN, “I believe we bought two Mega Millions, two Power Ball, two Fantasy 5 and two of the pick and then we spent the rest of the money on scratch and sniffs.” Both Von Wagoners broke out into giggles as they explained “scratch and sniff” is what they call the instant, scratch off tickets.
During their weekend stay they scratched the instant tickets, a few at a time, and were grateful to make most of their money back and they had fun. Glen Von Wagoner tucked the other tickets, the ones for the drawings, into his computer case and didn’t think about them again for a while.
Mr. Von Wagoner said, “I remember telling Lori when I bought the tickets that you’ll make a lot of money when I win the jackpot and Lori said, ‘That’ll be fine with me.’”
The couple traveled to Dallas, Texas, where their daughter was going to school and had just recently recovered from West Nile Disease and Meningitis. Mrs. Von Wagoner had been in Dallas during the illness and was now going back with her husband to watch their daughter, who is a dancer, perform in a production she had been desperately struggling to rehearse for during and after her illness.
In preparing for the trip Mr. Von Wagoner had been cleaning out some papers from his computer case and discovered the forgotten tickets. He said, “I thought, oh, wow…I’ll just put these back and check them when we get to Dallas.” When they arrived in Dallas the computer bag was put in the hotel room and the tickets were once again forgotten.
The Von Wagoners returned to their home in Midway and the bag was put into the office. The tickets were still neatly tucked away in the plastic sleeve Black provided when the tickets were purchased and they weren’t thought of until the computer bag was once again opened by its owner.
The day finally came when Mrs. Von Wagoner asked her husband to look something up on the Internet and Mr. Von Wagoner finally got the chance to relax and open the computer. He looked up the information his wife asked for and began to check out the Mesquite Local News online, a news site the Von Wagoners are fans of. The Von Wagoners said they both love to read the MLN online to keep up with everything that’s happening in Mesquite even when they aren’t there and especially before they plan their trips to the community. They plan to become permanent residents of Mesquite when they retire.
While reading the stories, Mr. Von Wagoner caught the headline, “Beaver Dam Lodge Looking for its $1 Million Winner” He said it was about then that his heart dropped into his stomach and he pulled out the tickets to finally check them. He checked the Powerball number. His was 31; the winning number was 1. He hadn’t yet read to the end of the article. Then he read on and began comparing the numbers, his heart beating faster and faster, nearly out of his chest and couldn’t believe his eyes, the numbers were matching -- they all matched!
Mr. Von Wagoner still didn’t believe what he was seeing and before he said anything to his wife he went on to the Arizona lottery website to see what 5 out of 5 got and to verify that the numbers on his ticket still matched the numbers on the lottery web site. He explained that the conversation which followed his discovery went something like this:
Him: Um, Cathy can you come here?
Her: What? Just a minute, I’m doing laundry.
Him: No! Come here! Um, I think you better come here right now.
Her: I’m really busy, what do you want?
Him: We just won a million dollars.
Mrs. Von Wagoner didn’t see the computer screen and thought that her husband had mistakenly fell for one of those silly “You just won a million dollars” pop-ups that show up on many web sites and said, “What are you talking about?”
Her: What are you talking about?
Him: Powerball tickets….5 out of 5. Look, right here.
Her: Oh….my…Goodness! Are you sure?
Mr. Von Wagoner called the Beaver Dam Lodge and talked to Black. He said, “I think I have the ticket you’re looking for.” Black said, “What are your numbers?”
Glen Von Wagoner read off the numbers from his ticket and Black responded with, “Congratulations! You’re a millionaire.”
Black and the Von Wagoners got quite a laugh when they explained about the phone call. Mr. Von Wagoner asked Black, “Well, what do I do now?” and was slightly taken aback by Blacks response, “Are you married?” he first thought Black was hitting on him because of his winnings but Von Wagoner answered, “Yes, why?” Black said, “Well, you can go tell your wife she’s a millionaire!”
It wasn’t until the Von Wagoners heard the words, “Wow, that’s a lot of zeros” from the Lottery Commission’s representative that the reality of the situation finally set in and they were absolutely sure they had won.
The Von Wagoners intend to be very frugal with their new found riches. They both feel very blessed by this stroke of luck and aren’t going to do anything different than planned, such as retire early or anything. What they intend to do is enjoy just a little bit of it, rid themselves of debt and put the rest of the money in the bank.
Mrs. Von Wagoner is a teacher who plans to retire in three more years and Mr. Von Wagoner has three businesses he presently owns and runs in northern Utah and a fourth business in the works, some of which have seasonal opportunities.
Mr. Von Wagoner expressed that he can relax with the knowledge that he can take care of his family and his employees without the constant worry during the slow times, that he won’t have enough to start up again which, as the Von Wagoners describe it is, “The greatest feeling in the world right now.”