In a limo, new millionaires, Mary and Steve Pearson of Cary, pulled up to Mr. A’s Liquor World in Palatine to accept their oversized, $3.25 million check Monday afternoon.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe this has my name on it,” Mary said as she stared down at the big check in her hands. “I’m speechless,” said Steve just before embraced his wife on the sidewalk in front of the Palatine convenience store.
Surrounded by friends and family, the couple accepted the $3.25 million check from the Illinois Lottery. Mary and Steve Pearson said they plan share a portion of their winnings with family and close friends. “That’s what it’s all about,” Mary said, “If you don’t have friends and family to share it with, then what’s the point?”
The Pearsons do not have have any children but the couple has two dogs, Golden Retrievers Shemus and Dublin. "They're already spoiled, now they're just going to be even more spoiled," said Mary. With a total of 11 siblings and 35 nieces and nephews, the Pearsons have plenty of people to spoil with their winnings. Steve said, “We’ve already spent like $225 thousand in our heads, just on our family.” The couple has not gotten the gotten the prize money just yet but that hasn’t stopped the Pearsons from planning what they’re going to spend their new fortune on.
“We’re going somewhere soon,” Mary, a 17-year mammographer at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, said she’s ready to travel. Set to celebrate 31 years of marriage on Oct. 2, Mary said the couple planned to take a weekend trip for their anniversary but now that they have a lot more money and a lot more options the Pearsons are not sure what they're going to do. But Steve, a sheet metal worker said he’s already got their travels all planned out. “We’re going to Hawaii, Waterloo, Italy, Amsterdam and then we’re probably going to take a little break,” said Steve.
After sharing their wealth with family and traveling the world, the couple plans to invest their winnings. “We’re not going to buy anything for a while," Steve said, "We’re just going to sit back and enjoy this.” But those plans could also change, Steve admitted his wife is already looking for her dream home.
The Pearsons opted to cash in their $3.25 million winning Lotto ticket for one lump sum of money, which after taxes leaves them with $1.75 million. “We’re not rich,” said Mary, “No we’re comfortable,” added Steve.
Currently on a leave of absence, Mary said she is does not know if she will return to work at Good Shepherd Hospital but Steve said he definitely plans to keep his job as a sheet metal worker. If it wasn't for Steve's job the Pearsons would have never bought the winning Lottery ticket, Steve said he only bought tickets when he was working.
On his way home from work on Thursday, Sept. 6, Steve bought the winning Lotto ticket at Mr. A’s Liquor World in Palatine, two days before the drawing. Steve’s $2 computer generated Quick Pick ticket matched all six numbers from Saturday’s drawing.
Steve said he didn’t even check his lottery tickets until he returned to Mr. A’s Liquor World on Monday, Sept. 10, and saw the sign posted on the door, “Check your Lotto tickets, $3.25 mil. winner at this store.” As soon as he read that, Steve said he turned around and headed home, “I drove to Cary praying through the sunroof to anyone up there who would listen.” When Steve arrived home his prayers were answered; the third Lottery ticket he checked was the $3.25 million winner.
Steve immediately went out and bought two-dozen roses and placed the pink and peach flowers in his wife’s car while she was at work to surprise her with the good news.
At Good Shepherd in Barrington, Mary said word of the winning ticket traveled through the hospital. Mary said she called her husband three times before he finally told her they had won. “I didn’t know what to think,” Mary said, “I didn’t believe him until I saw the ticket but when I saw the flowers in my car I just knew.”
Three weeks later, the Pearsons went to the store at 855 N. Quentin Road to pickup their check Monday. While Steve stops at Mr. A’s Liquor World at least twice a week, this was his wife Mary's first trip to the Palatine convenience store. “I’ve never been to this liquor store, now I should probably own it,” said Mary as she walked into Mr.’s A’s for a photo op with her big check.
Raj Patel, owner of Mr. A’s Liquor World accepted the $32,500 ceremonial check, commission for selling the winning ticket. Patel said he was happy one of his regular customers won the big prize. “He’s been coming in here for five or six years, mostly to buy Lotto tickets,” said Patel.
Over the last five years, Steve said he’s spent $20 a week on Lotto tickets, $10 at Mr. A’s Liquor World in Palatine and $10 at a convenience store in Cary. Steve said he only played for fun, winning was something he had never even thought about. “It’s a humbling experience,” Steve said, “I keep thinking I have to take my wife back to the hospital, she’s got Lotto fever.” Mary said she went numb when she found out they had won and now she is still in a bit of shock, Mary said, “My head is not attached yet.”
The couple took the symbolic, oversized check home to Cary but it could be another four to six weeks before the Pearsons get the prize money from the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Even without the money, life has already gotten a little crazy for the Pearsons, Steve said, "I'm getting calls from girls I went to kindergarten with." Steve said it has been fun but he and his wife are ready for things to settle down so they can enjoy and share their Lotto luck with the people they care about. Steve said, “That’s what we’ve always done, even before we had a lot,” His wife added life won't change too much for the couple, Mary said, “That’s normal, this is our normal, we’ll just have more to give now.”