Taking home a top prize was a great way to finish out an otherwise unlucky year
By Kate Northrop
TURNER, Maine — This past year has understandably been a tough one for many people, and for a couple hailing from Turner, Maine, 2020 was particularly unkind to them. But in a twist of fate, they ended the year on a high note when they won a big lottery prize worth $1 million.
Following a tradition of saving up winnings from previous lottery wins and cashing them in to buy more, Glenn Theriault and Stephanie Lemieux had plenty of good karma on the way when one of their $25 scratch-off lottery tickets turned up a winner for a $1 million top prize.
The win was very much welcome for the couple, who lost their 13-year-old chocolate lab, Baxter, in the spring.
“He was like our child and meant the world to us, especially since we were told I could never have children,” Lemieux told the Sun Journal on Saturday morning, three days after scoring their new fortune.
“Letting go was one of the hardest things we ever had to do, but it was time, and Baxter seemed to know it,” Theriault added. “Our luck seemed to instantly change after that awful day when we said goodbye.”
Once COVID-19 hit the United States, the pandemic took its toll on local businesses and restaurants across the country and left many households struggling financially. Lemieux and Theriault instead found themselves on the rise.
“Our business was doing really well, and we were expanding while many people were closing down,” Lemieux recalled. “And then I found out I was pregnant after believing I couldn’t [be].”
The engaged couple live just a few miles down the road from the Food City grocery store on Auburn Road in Turner where they purchase several lottery tickets throughout the week. Often times, they buy a bunch at once to give to their employees.
“We save up our winners and cash them in all at once and then buy a bunch more,” Theriault explained. “I figured we might get lucky one of these days and hit a big one. How’d that work out?”
On Tue., Dec. 29, they cashed in on their previous lottery wins and bought 25 $25 tickets. Then, in the comfort of their recliners at home, they divvied up the pile of scratch-off tickets worth $625 and got to work.
Lemieux gleefully revealed a $50 winner, and Theriault scratched off a couple worth $30, but the real win was yet to come.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and it took a second for it to sink in,” Theriault said, describing what happened when he got to the 11th ticket. “I did a big karate chop on the arm of the recliner and yelled ‘I can’t believe it’ and jumped up!”
Lemieux could confirm the events of that night but admitted that she didn’t believe her fiancé at first.
“He jumped up and did a dance,” she said. “I didn’t believe him and snatched it out of his hands to see for myself.”
The first thing they did, of course, was take out the best tequila they had and call up a relative, who also didn’t believe the news at first.
Reality really set in when they checked online to see that one of the four available top prizes worth $1 million was just sold. They were understandably nervous about losing the ticket, so they called up the Maine Lottery office right away to book an appointment to claim their prize.
“We had to get it safe; he was biting his fingers off he was so nervous about it,” Lemieux said after they had taken a photo of the ticket and placed it in a safety deposit box at the bank.
For days following the win, the couple was the talk of the town. One of the first things they did was return to the Food City grocery store to give the manager and the clerk who helped them with their fateful purchase $1,000 each.
“They were in shock and couldn’t believe it,” Lemieux remarked. “The cashier began to cry and couldn’t speak. It was such a great feeling.”
One day later, they posted a photo of the winning ticket and the news of their good fortune on Facebook, which quickly garnered attention from locals. Just a few hours after making the post, Lemieux went out to a liquor store to restock for New Year’s and overheard a conversation between a clerk and a customer about the win.
“Thank goodness I was wearing a mask because the guy at the counter was talking with a customer and looking at my Facebook post and debating if the ticket was real or not,” she said. “I pulled the mask up a little higher and giggled to myself but didn’t want the attention.”
After taxes, the couple ended up taking home a grand total of $710,000, which they plan on putting toward a new property, their retirement, and their expanding business.
“We were looking at some small properties in Rangeley for when we retire,” Theriault mentioned. “We are also building a new facility for our business and can pay a good chunk of that off. I think we’ll step that retirement plan up a bit and buy a bigger camp and some snowmobiles, or ATVs, or both.”