|Armando Alvarez gave the thumb’s up sign after winning a $1 million Mega Millions prize.|
Baltimore resident relieved to have money for kids’ college tuition
Armando Alvarez is a married father of two who works two jobs and has been concerned about finding the money to send his children to college. But those worries ended on Dec. 11, when he won a $1 million Mega Millions prize.
The 41-year-old Baltimore resident had been a fan of scratch-off tickets and hadn’t tried his hand at numbers games like Mega Millions until a few months ago.
“A co-worker showed me his tickets, and I said, ‘How do you play?’” said Armando, who works as an auto body repair man. “I’d never played before.”
Alvarez said he started trying his hand at Mega Millions using family members’ ages and birthdates.
“In the last three months, the most I’d ever won was $7,” he said. “But I kept playing those numbers. I thought one day they’d come out.”
That day turned out to be Dec. 11.
Armando was running late on his way to his second job, but decided to make a quick stop for a soda at the Royal Farms store located at 2704 Washington Blvd. in Baltimore, where he regularly buys his Lottery tickets. While he was there he purchased two tickets for that night’s Mega Millions drawing.
The next morning, on his way to work again, he stopped at the same Royal Farms store and scanned his tickets at the Lottery ticket checker. He won $1 on the first one. And on the second, the ticket checker delivered the magic message Lottery players long to see: Cash at Lottery.
“I’d never seen that before,” Armando said. “I said, ‘What does that mean?’ I thought maybe something was wrong, so scanned it a second time and it said the same thing. There was a guy there who I’ve seen before, who plays scratch-offs and Racetrax all the time, and he said, ‘That means you hit it big.’”
At that point, the reality of the situation began to set in for Armando. Then the manager of the Royal Farms store delivered even more stunning news.
“The manager said they got a call that morning telling them that there was a $1 million ticket sold there,” Alvarez said. “I went blank. I was shocked. He said, ‘I don’t know if it was you. Let’s find out.’”
The manager made a printout of the winning numbers from the drawing, and everyone in the store gathered at the counter to confirm what was quickly becoming obvious: Armando is going to have no problem sending his kids to college.
“I called my wife and at first she didn’t believe me – she said, ‘Why did you wake me up?’” Armando said as he and his wife both laughed. “I’ve been waiting for someone to shake me and say, ‘It’s 8 a.m., wake up!’”
Armando said his 14-year-old daughter has been starting to talk about choosing a college, and he’s been working two jobs in order to make enough money to pay the tuition.
“You start to worry about how you’re going to do it,” he said. “Now she can pick and choose where she wants to go.”
Armando and his wife, who have been married 18 years, also have an 8-year-old son. In addition to saving money for college tuition, the family plans to use the prize money to pay off their mortgage.
For selling the $1 million-winning ticket, the Royal Farms store will receive a $2,500 bonus from the Maryland Lottery. Mega Millions drawings are held on Tuesday and Friday nights at 11:22 p.m. and are broadcast live on WBAL-TV in Baltimore.