Illinois Army National Guard Soldier Wins $250,000 Little Lotto Prize

For Immediate Release Contact: Mike Lang 217-524-5158

SPRINGFIELD, IL—Oct 27, 2011—Good things really do happen to good people. For 24 years, Todd Smith of Auburn has served in the Illinois Army National Guard. A Master Sgt assigned to the 129th Regional Training Institute in Springfield, Smith completed a tour of duty in Iraq from 2007 to 2008. Smith and his wife, Dawn, are raising several children in Auburn, doing their best to make ends meet and provide for their children’s future. 

That future got a lot brighter, thanks to a winning ticket that Smith purchased for the Oct 8, 2011 Little Lotto drawing, netting the family a $250,000 grand prize. Today, Todd and Dawn Smith received a ceremonial check from the Lottery’s Finance Director, Gerry Mahr, who also serves as Chief Master Sgt and Air Operations Manager for the Illinois Air National Guard. “It’s an honor to present this check to an outstanding solider and deserving winner,” said Mahr, who has served 26 years in the Air National Guard. 

Of his year-long tour of duty in Iraq, Smith, 42, said “The difficult separation my family endured during my deployment to Iraq is something we all endured. Maybe this (lottery win) is our gift of endurance.” One thing is certain--the family will put the money to good use. 

Todd and Dawn plan to use the money to pay off some debt, and to provide college funds for the three children (ages 8, 11 and 16) living in their Auburn home. An older son from Todd’s previous marriage will also be a benefactor, as will other family members. “It will be a good Christmas for the kids and family members,” said Todd. 

“Our first and top priority is to provide college funds for the kids, but I’m sure we’ll also find other ways to give back,” said Dawn, 37, who works as a medical technologist at Passavant Hospital in Jacksonville. Part of the money will be used to pay off one of her student loans, she said. 

The story of how the Smiths learned—and confirmed—they were the sole winners of $250,000 stretches over two sleepless, exciting days. It ultimately involved a stop at a Road Ranger gas station on Springfield’s east side. The store clerk there was able to confirm the couple was the only winner in the Oct 8 drawing, resulting in tears of joy from Dawn – and “why is mommy crying?” questions from some of the children. Dawn, a generous and grateful person, later returned to the Road Ranger store and gave a $100 tip to the clerk who confirmed the ticket’s sole-winner status. “She (the clerk) was very excited for us, and very appreciative of the tip,” said Dawn. 

“This is another great story of Lottery players doing good, uplifting things with their winnings,” said Illinois Lottery Supt. Michael J. Jones. “The fact that Mr. Smith serves in the Illinois Army National Guard makes it even better. The Lottery is a long-time supporter of Illinois veterans, and has provided through its Veterans Cash scratch games over $9.5 million to organizations that benefit Illinois veterans. That is something we can all be proud of!” 

The Little Lotto game is offered every day. Jackpots start at $100,000 and have grown to over $1 million. About 220 people win Little Lotto jackpot prizes every year. Players win prizes by matching as few as two Little Lotto numbers. The winning numbers from the Oct 8, 2011 Little Lotto drawing are: 16-20-23-25-29. The winning ticket was sold at LLFS Auburn Fast Stop, 407 E. Jackson in Auburn. The store will receive a $2,500 bonus for selling the ticket. 


About Illinois Lottery

Founded in 1974, the Illinois Lottery has contributed over $20 billion to the state’s Common School Fund to assist K-12 public schools, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars to the Capital Projects Fund and to special causes like Illinois Veterans, the fight against breast cancer, MS research, and assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition to playing in-store, the Illinois Lottery offers online and mobile play for Mega Millions, Powerball and Lotto at Players must be at least 18 years old.