Nick Slatten, 31, might be one of the luckiest people in 2021. He went to bed on March 10 and woke up the next day a millionaire. Then his fortune seemingly disappeared when he lost his winning lottery ticket.
Slatten’s jackpot story began when he and his boss made a pit stop at a local supermarket after a day’s worth of work laying tile. The longtime scratch-off player of Sparta, Tenn. – with one $500 win under his belt from about six years ago – grabbed something to drink, two scratch-offs and a Tennessee Cash lottery ticket.
The winning numbers were called that night, but Slatten wouldn’t know he had them until he took a break from running errands the next day, he told The Washington Post.
“I left the water company, and I pulled the lottery app up on my phone. I recognized two of the numbers on my ticket,” he said. “I pulled out my ticket and I noticed every single number was matching up as I was driving down the road.”
Slatten’s ticket was worth nearly $1.2 million.
Slatten sent the news to his wife, Michelle Doll, in a text before rushing to the local restaurant where she worked. Doll stood on the corner, confused – she had never seen his messages.
“I showed her the ticket and I showed her the app,” he said, adding that she was crying happy tears. “She kept looking at the ticking and looking at me.”
The pair agreed to keep the million-dollar ticket in a special place before cashing it in for a lump sum. But Slatten broke that promise when he pulled it out to show it to his brother, whom Slatten hadn’t seen in about seven years.
Somewhere between their drive to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts for a car part, Taco Bell and back to his brother’s hotel, Slatten realized he had lost the ticket. He emptied out his pockets, panicking.
Slatten retraced his steps to the car shop and raced back to find it lying on the ground next to another truck. He ran over to the ticket and grabbed it with relief.
“It’s a million-dollar ticket, and someone stepped right over it,” Slatten told the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp.
Slatten said he was lucky his wife was at work, or she would have been furious that he left the house with it. “I should have never had the ticket in my pocket,” he said.
The lottery commission encourages winners to sign their tickets immediately after buying them in the event that they become lost or stolen. Slatten’s win is public because Tennessee doesn’t allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.
Slatten said he and Doll plan to speak with a financial adviser for help with investing and making major purchases such as a house and cars.
And he says he might lay a little less tile in the future.
“I told [my boss] that I wouldn’t quit but I wouldn’t care if he slowed down on the work,” he said.