A homeless man in Aspen, Colorado, beat 840,000-to-1 odds to win a half-million dollars on a lottery scratch ticket, and "it couldn't happen to a better type of person," a shelter worker said Monday.
Michael Engfors, 61 — who's been homeless for about six years after he lost his business and went through a divorce — bought the $10 ticket Friday afternoon at an Aspen gas station, Jeremy Kowalis, who works at the Aspen Homeless Shelter, told NBC station KUSA of Denver.
Engfors spent one last weekend sleeping on the floor of St. Mary Catholic Church before the shelter's director drove him to the lottery office in Grand Junction on Monday, Kowalis said.
"Michael has seen a bottom that has pushed him right to the edge," Kowalis told KUSA. "But Michael never gave up. He knew that if he kept pushing on, eventually his luck would change."
Gabby Garcia, a clerk at the station, confirmed in an interview with The Aspen Times that a man did, indeed, win $500,000 in a scratch-off game purchased at the store on Friday.
Garcia called the man — who hadn't yet been identified when she spoke to the newspaper — a regular lottery player who usually wins only a buck or two. He almost always stays outside — but Friday, he ran into the store shouting, "I won!" Garcia said.
The Colorado Lottery said the odds of hitting the top prize in its "Eternal Splendor" scratch game are 840,000 to 1.
"I asked him what he was going tp do, and he said he wanted to get some skis and he really wanted to connect with his daughter who he hadn't seen in over 20 years," Kowalis told KUSA. "He's interested in trying to find out how to go about reaching her and re-connecting with her now that he's got a little bit more means to do so.
"It's such a great story," Kowalis said. "It's really inspired so many people, because out of all of the people, especially in Aspen, Colorado, that could win half a million dollars, it couldn't happen to a better type of person than somebody who actually uses the homeless shelter."