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Now I am a rich man

Grandfather takes biggest-ever Israel lottery jackpot of NIS 76m

Lucky man informs his wife by singing about dreams coming true, calls boss at new place of work to tell him he won’t be coming in

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: An Israeli man at a "lotto" booth in the center of Jerusalem. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative: An Israeli man at a "lotto" booth in the center of Jerusalem. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A grandfather from the south scored the biggest ever lottery win in the history of the country on Tuesday when he won NIS 76 million ($23.4 million)

It marked a dramatic change in fortune for the man, who had been out of work for a prolonged period due to the coronavirus outbreak, when many lost their jobs during national lockdowns. In addition, recent fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip left him sitting in a bomb shelter as the Hamas terror group rained rockets on the country, and in particular the south, until a ceasefire was reached Friday.

But things took a turn for the better when he left home to start a new job early Wednesday morning and decided to check his lottery tickets in the moments before he started the engine of his car.

In a statement from the Mifal Hapais organization that runs the national lottery, the man said that he initially saw that just one person had taken the first prize and thought to himself, “How great for the winner, perhaps it is me.”

Screen capture from the national lottery website showing a win (top right) of NIS 76 million on May 25, 2021. (Mifal Hapais.)

The man had bought two tickets for the draw and the first one that he checked did not have a win on it.

But on the second, he had all six lottery numbers and the Powerball.

The prize for Tuesday’s draw was NIS 38 million, but the winner had purchased a double-up ticket, making his jackpot NIS 76 million.

The man said he called his son and kept shouting his name, alarming him because he was calling at an unusual hour and had woken up his daughter-in-law.

“‘I won the lottery, now you don’t need to earn a living,'” he said he told them. “They didn’t go back to sleep and came straight over.”

In the meantime, the man went back home to tell his wife, who was still asleep in bed.

Climbing in beside her, he began to sing, “Sometimes dreams come true,” a song by Israeli artist Svika Pick.

“At first my wife didn’t understand why I was so energetic,” he said, but finally, she realized what had happened.

He then called his new boss and told him that he would not be coming in to work that day.

“I will have to call him again and tell him that it seems I won’t be coming in at all,” the man said.

After taking off 38 percent in tax, he was left with NIS 47 million ($14.46 million).

His win topped the NIS 74 million that a winner took home in 2009. Israel’s lottery is capped at NIS 40 million, or NIS 80 million for a double-up ticket.

The man explained that he occasionally plays the lottery and rather than filling in the form himself he lets the ticket machine randomly pick numbers. Last week he found two ticket forms in a drawer that he had used in the past but did not win anything.

“I decided that was a sign that it was time to try my luck again, and used them again,” he said. A draw at the weekend won him NIS 90 on one ticket, which he took as a good omen and so, rather than buying new tickets, again submitted them for the Tuesday draw.

“It seems that was a significant one-off decision,” he said.

The man said he will divide the money up evenly between his children, enabling them to buy homes without taking out a mortgage. The family is also planning a long trip abroad.

“The children want Thailand, but I am leaning more toward the US,” he told Walla. “It looks like we won’t do one trip, but two.”

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