Man, 26, wins largest Illinois lottery instant prize in history

July 9, 2013 3:43:39 PM PDT
A young Chicago man is the largest instant lottery prize winner in Illinois history.

The 26-year-old won $20,000 a week for the next 20 years.

Illinois lottery officials presented 26-year old Anel Bajtarevic with a ceremonial check for $20.8 million. Because it is an instant lottery game, all prizes are paid over a 20-year period, no lump sum cash payment is available.

"It feels good. I just cannot believe it," said Bajtarevic.

Bajtarevic was surrounded by his parents and girlfriend. When he was 10 years old, his parents brought him to this country from Bosnia for a better life. Two weeks ago while shopping at his local Dominick's store in the 1700-block of West Howard Street, he noticed the lottery self-service machine and says the 20x20 game - $20,000 a week for 20 years - instantly caught his eye.

"It is starting to sink in, but I did not believe it for a long time," Bajtarevic said. "The first thing I am going to buy, probably a car... corvette maybe."

Bajtarevic owns a small trucking business and now says he will be able to grow his company.

"He is going to use part of his money to increase the number of employees and buy more trucks to live the American dream," said Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones.

"It feels like a boulder being lifted off my shoulders. I don't have to worry about money anymore," Bajtarevic said. "I want to share some of it. I do not want to keep it all."

"It is a blessing, but honestly it could not happen to a better family," said girlfriend Safina Hassnoddin. "He does everything on his own; he works so hard. His parents work so hard."

Dominick's just put the machine in the store a month ago and said it will now bring them more customers. The Dominick's where the ticket was purchased nets a $208,000 bonus check.

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