A woman who has been playing the lottery since 1972 won $400,000 by purchasing 80 $1 tickets, all with the same number that represents her late husband's birthday.
Lidia Gutierrez, 63, is a regular customer at Wally's Mini Mart in Pontiac. On July 27, she bought 80 $1 tickets with the winning number 2123 for the Michigan Lottery's Daily 4 evening drawing. Each ticket is worth $5,000.
"She was very excited," store owner Wally Kinaia told The Oakland Press.
There was no telephone listing for Gutierrez in Pontiac, and telephone calls Thursday to others with the same last name did not locate her.
Kinaia and his wife, Nidhal, have owned Wally's for seven years and said Gutierrez's win was lucky for them, too. They received $10,000 for selling winning tickets to Gutierrez and another customer who won $20,000 last week.
Regular customer Janice Broadnax, who bought a ticket Wednesday, said it was "an inspiration" to hear about Gutierrez's win.
"I'm not as big a player as some though," she said. "Now, we know there are winners in this area. It keeps up hope."
Gutierrez has been playing 2123 — the date and year of her husband's birth — nearly every day since the lottery began in 1972, Michigan Lottery spokeswoman Andrea Brancato said.
Kinaia said other people also buy multiple tickets with the same number.
"We have people who play 50 on one number, 60," he said. Gutierrez had won smaller prizes before, Brancato said.
"Her wagers always varied. She'd play as little as $1 on some days, but when she went to the party store from which she always makes her lottery purchases," Brancato said, "she had a hunch and put the $80 down on her favorite number."
All the lottery's net income goes to Michigan's public schools.