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Beach newcomer wins $1 million

James Santos lived in Florida for 41 years. He had heart surgery in 2009, and lost his job because he couldn’t work. Then he lost his home to foreclosure and had to sell his car to pay bills. And, then his favorite dog died. “We’ve been struggling,” he said.

James and his wife, Roxanne, arrived in Colonial Beach three months ago. And his luck changed. Last week he won $1 million playing a Virginia Lottery game on a $10 Cash Blast ticket he purchased at the Riverboat on the Potomac.

“It’s like a miracle,” he said. “We’ve really been having a hard row. I’ve been doing a lot of praying because I believe if you have faith and believe in God, things will get better.” While times were tough, James and Roxanne moved to Colonial Beach to live with Roxanne’s sister, Linda Willis, and her husband Mike.

James, 54, a former pipefitter, has been living on disability and worrying about the future. He said he has been praying, and when he has a little extra money, buying an occasional lottery ticket.

When Roxanne went to the Riverboat last week to interview for a job, James went with her and purchased two $10 Cash Blast tickets at the green Virginia Lottery Express machine that is just inside the Riverboat’s front door. Most of the Riverboat is located in the State of Maryland, but the area near the entrance is in Virginia.

“While I waited outside for my wife, I scratched the two tickets. One of them was a million dollar-winner. When my wife came out I said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but we just won a million dollars.’ She thought I was crazy.”

James and Roxanne took the ticket to the 7-11 in Colonial Beach, where a clerk verified it was a winner. The odds of winning $1 million on a Cash Blast ticket were 1.2 million to one. “It’s a life changer for us,” James said.

James and Roxanne drove to the Virginia Lottery Headquarters in Richmond and took the lump sum payout. After federal and state taxes were deducted, they received a check for $445,000. Their first purchase was a new black Chevrolet Silverado pick-up. They paid cash for it.

“We’re going to stay here,” James said. He said he and his wife might go to Florida occasionally, but they hope to find a permanent home in Colonial Beach. “Virginia’s lucky for us.”

Roxanne got the job at Riverboat on the Potomac. But that’s going to have to wait. Next on the couple’s agenda is a cruise in the Caribbean. “We’ve been blessed and we’re going to celebrate just a little,” James said.

Richard Leggitt

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