A Chicago man struck it rich with a little help from his cookie jar.
Ricardo Cerezo, of Geneva, Ill., says his wife found 11 lottery tickets while cleaning out their kitchen and one of the tickets matched the Feb. 2 winning Quick Pick numbers for $4.85 million, the Associated Press reports.
After taxes, Cerezo and his family will receive about $3.4 million, according to the Illinois Lottery's report.
“It couldn’t have happened at a better time," Cerezo, a management consultant, told reporters. "I just thought, this is how God works."
Three months ago, Cerezo appeared at a foreclosure hearing. He was facing eviction, a pile of bills and debt. Last year the couple’s 14-year-old daughter, Savannah, died from a sudden illness, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Cerezo said his wife suggested that he check to see if any of the tickets held a winning number. He went to a nearby gas station to scan them.
“It was either take them, get them checked, or she was going to trash them that night,” Cerezo said.
Cerezo’s six-figure winnings are particularly significant. Their daughter Savannah bought Cerezo the cookie jar a few months before she died. The family kept lottery tickets and other keepsakes in the jar, NBC Chicago reports.
"The honest first reaction was mammoth regret. Regret because our youngest wasn't here to enjoy this," Cerezo said.
With the winnings, Cerezo says he plans to pay off his family’s motrgage, bills and share the earnings with their son and other daughter, he told Chicago’s WGN TV.
“It is very important to us that we help others with this money,” Cerezo said.
Cerezo’s win is small compared to the estimated $600 million Powerball jackpot that will be drawn on Saturday, Fox News reports. Seven states will be participating in the third largest lottery in history.
In March, a New Jersey man won the last major jackpot, collecting $338.3 million in what's now considered the fourth-largest Powerball jackpot in history.