HELENA – Terry Lewis knew something was up when her husband went into Papa’s Woods Bay Market – and didn’t come out.
She was sitting in their car in the parking lot of the Bigfork gas station and convenience store. Her husband, Steven Lewis, had gone in to check their Montana Lottery tickets. The gas station sign was flashing “CONGRATS! CONGRATS!” because someone who bought a Big Sky Bonus ticket there had won the $57,958 jackpot.
But Terry didn’t really think it was them. She just thought her husband was taking forever. When he came out of the store, Steven was doubled over with surprise.
Their ticket was the winner.
“What a gift it is,” Terry said. “I can’t even describe how grateful we are.”
The Lewis’s moved to Bigfork from Belgrade to help care for elderly family and their multi-generational Flathead cherry orchard. It’s a beautiful spot and rewarding work, but it also meant “starting over professionally,” Steve said.
Then Terry, who is self-employed, was temporarily sidelined from work with a shoulder issue.
Their shock at winning Big Sky Bonus came at just the right time.
It almost didn’t happen at all. Steven routinely buys Montana Cash or Powerball tickets, but he’s never played Big Sky Bonus. He stopped in at Papa’s Woods Bay Market to buy his usual lottery purchase and asked the clerk if there were any big jackpots. The clerk mentioned Big Sky Bonus, so Steven threw one of those tickets in, as well.
“If he wouldn’t have done that, I wouldn’t have bought it,” Lewis said.
A few other Northwest Montana residents were big winners in the Montana Lottery in April.
David Stevenson of Eureka won $14,869 on April 11 playing Shake A Day. Stevenson bought his winning ticket at Trappers Saloon in Eureka.
Cheryl Thompson of Kalispell won $6,620 on April 16 playing Shake A Day. Thompson bought her winning ticket at the Midway Tavern in Whitefish.
The Montana Lottery has awarded nearly $1.2 million in prizes since April 5 – an average of more than $29,000 every day.