The Postal Service might want to tap Randy Branum for a marketing campaign on having confidence in the U.S. mail system.
The Sandpoint retiree won $1 million in a Powerball drawing in September and put his winning ticket in the mail to Idaho Lottery headquarters in Boise.
That’s right, Branum mailed in his jackpot. Just as he always does with his lottery tickets. But this time, he didn’t know one was worth a small fortune.
“I usually wait a month or two, sign all the tickets I have, and then mail them in,” explained Branum, a retired contractor who said he usually checks carefully for winners. “This time I had two or three tickets left and just signed them and sent them off. I figured there might be some $7 winners in there.”
Idaho Lottery security officials were surprised when they verified the winning ticket from the Sept. 23 drawing. It’s common for North Idaho residents to send in their winning tickets, but no one had ever mailed in one with such a high value.
They immediately contacted Branum.
“When they called, I thought I’d maybe won the Bronco Bowl Bash, the trip to see Boise State’s Bowl Game this year,” he said. “Instead they told me I’d won $1 million. I couldn’t talk.”
Branum hung up and told his wife, Colleen. Still in disbelief, they called back.
“I was convinced it was a friend of ours playing a hoax on us,” said Colleen, a retired school principal. “Once we talked to everyone at the lottery again, though, well, I guess Santa’s coming early this year.”
On Wednesday, Branum received his winning check, along with an oversized souvenir check, at Sandpoint’s Waterfront Express Conoco station where he bought the ticket.
“This is truly a windfall, a gift, holy cow,” he said. “You work hard, you pay your bills. It’s something you never think is going to happen and then it does. It’s exciting to play and win.”
His wife added, “We’re going to enjoy this. We might celebrate and go for sushi. And maybe buy some new tires for Randy’s truck.”
The couple will celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary at the end of this month.
“We can live to be 90 now,” Branum said. “And I’m going to keep on mailing in my winning tickets.”
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