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


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.

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