Friends Athena Korines and Rob Devine have been pooling their money and buying scratch-off lottery tickets for fun for the past year and a half. But they usually never won more than a $100 and were thinking of giving it up.
Then on Jan. 24, Devine purchased a $20 instant ticket at a Glenview liquor store. He brought it into the nearby bar, Potato Creek Johnny's, where Korines works.
As she was scratching off the ticket and seeing a winning prize of $1 million, she thought her good friend was playing a bad joke.
"I thought it was a fake ticket. I thought maybe it's a joke ticket," said Korines, 51, of Elk Grove Village. "I said, 'Really Robbie? Really?' The kids do that stuff. Did you look at this? Look! Look!"
But in reality, it was a genuine Illinois Lottery Fabulous Fortune ticket.
"I wasn't a believer before," Korines said. "I'm a believer now."
The two friends elected to claim their prize as a one-time cash option of $600,000 and are splitting the money down the middle.
Korines plans to pay some bills, share with her three children, and buy a house.
Devine, 61, a self-employed remodeling contractor from Des Plaines, plans to save for retirement.
The store where Devine bought the winning ticket, Chestnut Wine and Spirits at 1762 Waukegan Road, will receive $10,000 from the Illinois Lottery.