By Susan Sarkauskas
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$187,000 a year, for 20 years, isn't thumb-your-nose-at-the-boss-quit-your-job-and-buy-an-island money.
But it's good enough to help a Geneva family climb out of a financial hole that was exacerbated by the untimely death last year of their 14-year-old daughter, Savannah.
And Ricardo Cerezo believes his late daughter must have been looking out for them, as the winning lottery ticket was in a cookie jar she bought at a garage sale, and to which he sentimentally clung.
Illinois Lottery officials announced Cerezo's winnings earlier this week. He won $4.85 million on a ticket he bought Feb. 2 at a convenience store in Aurora.
But he didn't claim the prize until April 21. He had stuck the ticket, with others, in the glass cookie jar in his kitchen. He told WGN's Jonathan Brandmeier on Friday that it wasn't until his wife threatened to throw them out that he took the tickets to a store to check them.
Since he claimed the prize more than 60 days after the drawing, the prize was automatically converted to a 20-year annuity, he said. Every February, he will receive a check for $187,000, after taxes are withheld.
The winning will help the couple as they rebuild their financial lives.
In 2007, they finished repaying back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, which had put a lien on their house over a $646,104 tax bill accumulated over five years, according to Kane County recorder of deeds records.
In September 2011, a bank started to foreclose on their house. In March 2013, the bank agreed to modify their loan, according to an agreement recorded April 9 with the recorder of deeds. On April 23 the foreclosure case was dismissed, according to Kane County circuit court records.
They also owed almost $23,700 to the Ford Motor Credit Co., according to court records, and $1,808 to Provena Mercy Medical Center.
Cerezos told Brandmeier medical bills from his daughter's hospitalization were a problem.
Savannah died in August. The Cerezos have maintained her bedroom as it was. They have a son and another daughter.
"God was not going to take her room away from us," he told Brandmeier.