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Deserving family shares the Lotto America Jackpot

Pictured from left to right is the Kujava family: Dennis, his sister Debbie, the winner of the Lotto America Jackpot, and Dennis’ daughters, Denise and Deanna. (photo by Mavis Gonshorowski)

The day was Thursday, March 15 at 8:00 a.m. when Dennis Kujava got out of bed to answer his phone.
“Well, I was just laying there anyway – thinking about getting up and having my morning coffee,” he said.  “It was my sister, Debbie, telling me to put the coffee pot on.”
The Kujava’s reside in the Ross, Minn., area, about a half-mile from each other near the United States-Canadian border.
Debbie explained, “The morning after the March 14  lotto drawing I thought I better check the numbers of the lottery ticket bundle I had purchased from the Holiday Station in Roseau a couple of days earlier. I looked at the date on the Lotto America jackpot ticket, then the numbers, put my glasses on top of my head – I need to wear bifocals – and looked again. The numbers matched. I thought I had won $2 million!
“That’s when I called Dennis and told him ‘I think we’re millionaires!’  For many years we’ve had a pact…whoever wins, we share.”
“We went through a whole pot of coffee,” Dennis laughed.
Dennis’ younger of two daughters, Denise, decided to go online and discovered that the winning ticket was actually worth $22.8 million!
“When I heard that, I had to go outside; I was just shaking,” Debbie stated.
The ticket cost her $2.00 so she told Dennis he owed her a dollar.  “Then I told him he was a millionaire so I’d give his dollar back. The ticket was only a dollar; now the dollar is hanging on my fridge.”
Deanna, Dennis’ older daughter, who was in New Jersey at the time, was at home sleeping at the time and didn’t hear her phone ringing.
 Denise said “My dad was calling, Debbie was calling, I was calling…”
What was Deanna’s reaction when she heard the good news?
“I don’t think she really believed it until I showed her a picture of the ticket,” Denise replied.
The actual worth of the winning ticket was $22.8 million. Dennis and Debbie and Dennis’ two daughters are all sharing a portion of the $13.5 million after required tax withholding.
“We could receive so much (of the winnings) a year,” Dennis remarked, “I said I’m not going to live that long, so we took the option.”
To see the complete story, read the April 4 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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