Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Bemidji man wins Paul Bunyan-sized jackpot in Gopher 5 lottery

Author:

Meet Mark Church, Bemidji's newest millionaire.

The five lottery numbers he's been playing for 20 years finally paid off this week when he won $1,550,322 in the "Gopher 5" lotto game, according to the Minnesota State Lottery.

Church's lucky five-number combination, lottery officials say, is made up of his and his mother's birthdays.

Church says the night he found out he'd hit the jackpot, he'd been having trouble sleeping after watching a hockey game at a friend's house. When he got up in the wee hours of Tuesday morning to check his ticket, he knew he'd won.

The hardest part of being a winner?

Keeping it to yourself, apparently.

As he reported to the Lottery's Roseville headquarters to claim his prize on Wednesday, officials say, Church remarked that “it was a long night, waiting for daytime” to tell people about the win.

However, he did admit texting a friend in California after realizing the numbers on his ticket matched those in the lotto results.

If you're a superstitious lottery player and hoping to catch a little of Church's magic for yourself, try the Holiday gas station on Paul Bunyan Drive N.E. in Bemidji, where his winning ticket was sold.

Next Up

West St Paul, Minnesota - August 2018

Female shot in parking lot of Twin Cities Menards store

The incident happened at the same Menards where a robbery happened in September.

Image from iOS

1 injured, 1 in custody following shooting, police chase in Hopkins

The suspect was arrested following a police pursuit Sunday afternoon.

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins surprises Viking fan van on Minnesota highway

Cousins's new aggressiveness has pulled into the fast lane.

Joel Eriksson Ek

Another Wild rally falls short against Lightning

The Wild scored two goals with the extra attacker but couldn't beat the two-time defending champs.

police tape, crime scene

2 shootings in Brooklyn Park under investigation

Both incidents remain under investigation.

Justin Jefferson

Justin Jefferson erupts to lead Vikings over Packers

Greg Joseph's game-winner helped the Vikings get back to .500.

Duluth fire department, fire engine, fire truck

Officials investigating Duluth apartment fire that displaced 10 people

The fire broke out Friday night on the 600 block of East 4th Street.

Car break-in, smashed window, car theft

Orono police alert residents after series of 'smash and grab' robberies

The thieves are targeting cars and stealing valuables left inside.

Adam Thielen

Vikings vs. Packers: 5 things you can count on

Can the Vikings win a pivotal divisional battle?

FEtiw7MXEAAr_Ig

Man killed in shooting outside apartment building in St. Paul

Shots fired were reported to police around 11:30 p.m.

Anthony Edwards

Ant sets the tone, Timberwolves dominate Grizzlies

The Wolves have won four of their past six games.

Related

Lottery player, in no hurry, wins big

A Minnesota City man followed his typical lottery routine recently. He knew he had a winning scratch-off ticket, but he didn't scratch off the amount he'd won. He liked the surprise of finding out when he went to claim his winnings at the store. It could wait a day. Then there was a grilled cheese sandwich to eat. It was worth the wait: $100,000.

Bemidji designating 2012 to Paul Bunyan's 75th birthday

Mayor Dave Larson is proclaiming the next 12 months "The Year of the Legend" in honor of the famed Minnesota statue. The Pioneer reports the Beltrami County History Center also has an exhibit featuring more than 400 pieces of Paul Bunyan memorabilia.