CLIVE, Iowa — At first, the recent winner of a $40-million jackpot says he couldn’t believe he won the lottery — after all, he bought the ticket on April Fools’ Day.
“I thought it was a joke,” said Earl Lape, a 61-year-old retired mechanic from Dubuque, Iowa. Only after confirming his Lotto America ticket with a convenience store clerk was he convinced he won the big prize, according to the Iowa Lottery.
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“I laughed. I thought it was April Fools,” Earl Lape said after claiming his prize at the Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive.
Lape opted to take his winnings in cash, which for the drawing was $21.28 million. The $40-million prize was for those who take their winnings in an annuity, paid over 29 years.
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Lotto America is played in 13 states and offers smaller prizes than the games Powerball and Mega Millions. But it also has much better odds — 1 in 26 million — of winning the jackpot.
Lape said he intends to use the money to help his family and will also make donations to benefit children with medical issues.