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Article updated: 4/9/2013 2:41 PM

Elgin couple pledge not to blow through lottery winnings

By Lenore T. Adkins

Mary Michaud won $2 million in the lottery, and she and husband Gil insist the money won't change them, and that they'll employ common sense in money matters.

"We just want to make it last for the rest of our lives," she said.

Illinois Lottery officials presented the Elgin couple with a ceremonial $2 million check Monday afternoon at the McLean BP Gas station. That's where Mary Michaud, 44, buys $40 worth of tickets every two weeks. She won on a $10 instant ticket.

She'll take a lump-sum after-taxes payment of $840,000, while the gas station gets $20,000 for selling the winning ticket.

The couple, who have been married for seven years and met 10 years ago at Dylan's Pub in West Dundee, have had financial issues in the past.

Mary Michaud has medical debt stemming from several neck surgeries. She also lost her job as an insurance agent for two months when her company was bought out. When she found another job, she took a $40,000 pay cut in her commissions.

One year things were so tight that the couple used the proceeds from a $500 lottery she'd won to buy Christmas presents, she said.

The couple also have a mortgage, Michaud's oldest daughter is paying off student loans, and the couple drive cars that are 10 years old and in need of repair.

Their luck changed on Good Friday when Mary Michaud scratched off her Mega Cash ticket while relaxing on the porch. Her husband was raking the lawn nearby until she showed him the ticket. She then took the ticket to trusted neighbors to triple-check.

"The rake stayed (in the nearby lawn) for three days after; it was stuck in time," Mary Michaud said. "The whole weekend was a blur."

The couple have already met with a financial adviser, plan on getting out of debt, will splurge on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for Gil, 45, and invest the rest.

Looking for deals will continue to be a way of life for the couple because that's just the way they are, Gil Michaud said. He's got a garage full of aluminum cans that he still plans to cash in and will continue to collect more.

That philosophy of minimalism was on display Monday when their 7-year-old daughter, Natalie, filled her arms with more than a dozen candy bars at the gas station. In the end, her father limited her to a couple bags of Reese's because he doesn't want a large bill from then dentist.

"We've got to have limits," Gil Michaud said. "You can't get too much."

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