A Toledo woman knew she had a winning Iowa Lottery instant-scratch ticket, but she wasn't expecting it to be for a $25,000 top prize.
Carol Matta, 71, said she didn't know how much she had won on her "Bingo Boxes" scratch ticket until she had it verified at a retailer. When the clerk scanned her winning ticket and a winner claim form printed out, Matta said she knew this meant she had won a big prize.
"I said, 'Oh look, $2,500!' Then I looked at it closer and it said $25,000!" she said. "We were all dancing around in the store laughing and high fiving. It was fun!"
Carol Matta with an Iowa Lottery “check” representing her recent big win.
Matta, a retired speech and language pathologist, won the ninth of 24 top prizes of $25,000 available in the "Bingo Boxes" game. She said she purchased her winning ticket Feb. 6 at Jiffy, 108 U.S. Highway 30 W. in Toledo.
"I never expected to scratch one that would have (the top prize) on it," Matta told lottery employees as she claimed her prize Feb. 7 at the lottery's regional office in Cedar Rapids. "But when I saw that it was an 'X' (pattern), I thought, 'Well, that's good, I'll get a little money.'"
Matta said she plans to share her lottery winning with her family and take a trip with her husband, Rudy, this summer.
Bingo Boxes is a $2 scratch game. Players try to win a prize by matching numbers in any complete horizontal, vertical or diagonal line, four corners, an "X" pattern or all four numbers in the shaded box patterns in the play area on each ticket.
The overall odds of winning a prize in the game are 1 in 3.78.
Fifteen top prizes of $25,000 are still up for grabs in Bingo Boxes, as well as 34 prizes of $2,500, 32 prizes of $1,000, 87 prizes of $500, 115 prizes of $250 and hundreds of prizes of $150.
Since the lottery's start in 1985, its players have won more than $3.2 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.5 billion for the state programs that benefit all Iowans.
Today, lottery proceeds in Iowa have three main purposes: They provide support for veterans, help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund, and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.