The highest lottery prize in Israel’s history was won by a man in his 30s from central Israel on Saturday night, with a staggering prize total of NIS 80 million ($25 million).
The surprised winner told Hebrew media that he had never filled out lottery tickets before, and only decided to buy one now because he saw the unusually high prize sum.
“I saw commercials about the high prize and decided, for the first time in my life, to fill out a lottery ticket,” he said. “The moment I saw the winning numbers I knew that they looked familiar. I felt a kind of ‘light’ that I can’t explain.”
Describing his process for filling out the winning ticket, he said he barely gave it any thought and had only just been explained the rules moments earlier.
“I was in a hurry, so I invented a quick ‘method’ and only marked one primary number while letting the lottery machine choose the rest of the numbers in each row,” he said. “I’m not really sure what I did, but it certainly worked.”
After realizing he had won, the excited winner woke up his wife to share the news with her.
“I whispered in my wife’s ear, telling her I think we’ve won the lottery. That’s how I woke her up. She didn’t really understand at first… despite the late hour I immediately called my close family to tell them the news. I couldn’t sleep. The adrenalin didn’t allow me to. My wife and I were sitting in the living room and talking until 6 a.m.,” he said.
Despite the excitement, the winner did not immediately go to collect his prize. Instead, he went to work as usual and only went to hand in his ticket on Sunday afternoon.
When asked by Channel 13 what he planned to do with the money, he said: “We don’t lack for anything. My career provides for my family and we’re content with our lifestyle. But there’s always room for improvement, and one thing is sure — we will secure the future of our children and our families.”
Gambling is mostly illegal in Israel, with the exceptions of betting services offered by Israel’s national lottery institute, Mifal HaPais, and The Israeli Sports Betting Council. In the weekly lottery game offered by Mifal HaPayis, participants choose six numbers out of 37 and an additional one primary number out of seven. The maximum prize is paid for matching all of them.