(Town Crier photo/Tracey Yates)
Perez matched five of the six numbers on the Powerball game, missing only the Powerball number itself. Had he matched that number, he would have been the winner of the $25 million prize.
Until about a year ago, he let the machine randomly select his ticket numbers, but he then began playing with the same numbers each time.
Perez said he spends about $15 on Powerball tickets when he visits Metheny's station in Arbyrd near Leachville. In fact, it was the staff at the station that informed Perez's brother that they had a winner who had purchased the ticket at their business. Perez then checked the winning numbers and discovered that he was that lucky winner.
Last Monday Perez went to St. Louis to fill out the necessary forms involved to collect his money, which will be mailed to him within a week. He will receive a check for around $71,000 after taxes.
Perez already has definite plans for how he will use the money. He plans to pay off the debts he and his family incurred when starting their business, Pepe's Mexican Restaurant, in Leachville. He plans to use any remaining money to purchase a house. The lottery winnings came at a very fortunate time for Perez because he plans to get married this summer. He and his fiancÚ, Karla Arenas, are both very excited that they will be able to finance part of their first home with the money.
He said he and several members of his family enjoy playing the lottery, but many of his friends would tell him that he was wasting his money on the tickets. However, those friends have now changed their opinions on the issue. "They've started playing now," Perez said.