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Man wins $1 million by scratching the word ‘HEART’ shortly after open heart surgery

[Dec 3, 2021: Amy Sokolow]

Ten-year-old Andres Valencia has become the newest sensation at Art Miami, with celebrity collectors including Sofia Vergara buying his work. (CREDIT: Getty Images)

Shortly after Alex McLeish had double-bypass heart surgery this month, his childhood friend treated him to an infusion … of cash.

His buddy bought him a “get well soon” card with three instant tickets inside. One of those tickets turned out to be a lucky $1 million winner.

“We double-checked it, triple-checked and quadruple-checked it because you want to make sure it’s real before you mention it to anybody,” he said. “It was a little bit of disbelief at first but then it settled in and it was like wow, I can’t believe this happened, you know?”


The game, the “$5,000,000 100X Cashword” instant ticket, requires players to match their letters to words on a crossword puzzle-like board. The more complete words the player has, the more he wins.

In McLeish’s case, he scratched off just three letters at first: A, W and M– his initials. He grabbed his phone and texted both Larry, his friend, and his brother about that coincidence, calling the ticket “haunted.”

As he continued scratching off the letters and words on Thanksgiving Day, he found another meaningful sign: the word “heart,” as he still recovered from his surgery. At the end of the game, McLeish found 11 words total– a million-dollar number.


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After he and his son discovered that he won and he quadruple-checked his work, he called his wife downstairs. “She goes ‘Did you win anything?’ I go, ‘Yeah, a million bucks.’ She’s like ‘No really, what you win?’ ‘A million bucks,’” McLeish recalled with a laugh.

He decided to wait to tell Larry because it was Thanksgiving. When Larry asked him how he did on the “scratchies,” McLeish told him he did “pretty good.” Larry assumed he meant $1,000 or $10,000– but was shocked to learn that the prize was $1 million.

This isn’t the first time Larry has bought McLeish a winning ticket. The first time he sent him lottery tickets, for McLeish’s 60th birthday, McLeish won $1,000. Larry revealed to McLeish that he went to the same lucky store a second time: Quickeez Beer, Wine and Convenience Store in Carver.


Although McLeish, who works for Coca Cola in Needham, hasn’t fully fleshed out what he’s going to do with the money, he said he plans to give some to his adult sons and some to Larry. Although he had already booked an upcoming trip to the Bahamas before he won the prize, “it’ll just be a little bit more enhanced trip to the Bahamas,” he said.

The eye-popping win is even more astounding considering the nearly insurmountable odds he faced in scoring a prize ticket. Coveted jackpots, such as the Powerball and Mega Millions, come with 1 in 292.2 million and 1 in 302.6 million jackpot odds, respectively, according to Lottery USA. McLeish had 1 in 1.008 million odds of winning his prize, according to the Massachusetts State Lottery, which announced the win. The $5 million tickets come with 1 in 5.04 million odds. One of those tickets has yet to be claimed.'

The State Lottery experienced a slight dip in revenues this year, from $98.4 million in October 2020 to $77 million in October 2021. An almost $700 million jackpot this year boosted Powerball sales by $4.5 million in October.

For more good news stories check out our Good News section at The Brighter Side of News.


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