It was a matter of luck that Jimmy Worsham decided to pull over at a gas station in Kalispell and buy a $3 lottery ticket worth $25,000. And yet, as fortune would have it, there turned out to be a sudden blizzard that hit Montana and stood between Worsham and his prize.
On the evening of Nov. 7, Worsham, 52, was driving home when he pulled into Town Pump on U.S. 93 South in Kalispell to fill up his truck with gas. He walked inside to grab a few items, and the colorful gallery of lottery tickets attracted his attention.
Worsham didn’t play a lot of lottery, especially lately. It grew into a hobby this summer. After work he’d relax in his garage with a cold beer and scratch a few cheap tickets. He won $50 once. But for the most part he didn’t fare well and it became expensive. So he moved on from the after-work ritual.
But on this occasion, without putting a lot thought into it, Worsham bought four tickets from the cashier. They were Montana Lottery’s “Battleship” scratch tickets. The game, which debuted in February, touts a top prize of $25,000.
Worsham scraped away the silver material of the first ticket and it revealed he had won the top prize. Reality didn’t set in for a while, he recalled recently, and it took him an hour to even convince his significant other that it was true.
As the winner, he had two options — mail the winning ticket to the state’s lottery office in Helena or travel to the Capital City and claim the prize in person.
Instead of waiting by his mailbox for an indefinite amount of time, he decided to hit the road two days later.
“I’m not quite that patient,” he said.
The only problem arrived in the form of an overnight snowstorm. MacDonald Pass collected nearly a foot of snow as temperatures dropped below 20 degrees. Worsham saw one car accident on the highway. He was well prepared, though, and even more determined.
“I knew it wouldn’t be pretty. It was slow and I just took it pretty easy,” he said.
Worsham finally arrived at the lottery office in Helena and his prize was there waiting. After having his picture taken with a large check, he went straight to the bank. From there he ended up being too tired to celebrate, so he went to a hotel room and crashed after the long, nerve-wracking day.
A few days later he arrived home safe and sound. He joked with a friend that he returned with a “Kalispell Economic Stimulus Package,” even though he doesn’t have any major plans for spending the money – just a few household items and bill payments.
Even a week after scratching off that fortuitous ticket, and after braving a blizzard on his way to Helena, reality still had not completely sunk in.
“When something like that happens it really takes a long time for it to sink in and to realize what you’ve got,” he said. “It was a long drive but it was definitely well worth it.”
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