Life just got a little easier for two Nebraska natives who now live in northwest Iowa. On Thursday, Robert Stewart, who’s originally from Lincoln, became the Iowa Lottery’s seventh million-dollar winner this year. Stewart describes his reaction when he noticed he struck it rich.
“Oh, my God, I can’t believe I won this,” Stewart told reporters. The 41-year-old Stewart dropped off his wife, Deb, at work at an auto parts store in Storm Lake before driving across the street to a convenience store to fuel up. Deb is a North Platte native.
Robert says he purchased the last twenty-dollar “Lifetime Riches” instant scratch game the store had in stock. “I don’t normally buy the $20 tickets…I scratched off the top numbers and the first one I scratched off was $40,000 dollars a year,” Stewart said. Stewart verified the ticket was a winner at the store before rushing back to his wife to relay the good news.
He joked that she wasn’t all that thrilled. “She was going to hit me for having a $20 ticket,” Stewart said with a laugh. The Stewarts chose to take home a lump sum payment of $650,000 rather than collect $40,000 a year for the next 25 years. After taxes, the Stewarts net winnings amount to $455,000.
Stewart said he plans to buy a new car to replace a 1996 Oldsmobile, but doesn’t expect to make many other big purchases. “Not until we get the student loans and mortgage paid off,” Stewart said. “Then we’ll talk with a financial advisor and get most of it invested.”
The Stewarts have two children. Their 16-year-old son, Rory, attends Storm Lake High School. Their 18-year-old daughter will begin basic training to join the Marines in August. Robert Stewart says he plans to keep working as a manger of Game Stop, a video game shop in Storm Lake.
“These days, even a million dollars isn’t really enough to retire on unless you don’t want to eat very much,” Stewart said. “I couldn’t leave work immediately. We’ve to decide what we’re going to do. It’ll take us a couple months to make that decision.” This isn’t the first time Stewart’s won big money playing an Iowa Lottery game.
He won $480 in December 2006. A year later, he won $1,000 playing “Holiday Riches.” Stewart cashed in another $1,000 prize a few months ago playing “Easy Grand.” Stewart estimates he spend $20 to $30 every couple weeks buying Iowa Lottery games.
The Stewarts live in Aurelia, Iowa.