Craig residents Leo and Pam Fournier hold their check for an advertised $1.17 million in Colorado Lotto winnings. On Thursday, the couple drove to Grand Junction soon after learning they won. They said they didn't sleep until after they collected their prize from the Colorado Lottery office at about 9 a.m. Friday.

Colorado Lottery/courtesy

Craig residents Leo and Pam Fournier hold their check for an advertised $1.17 million in Colorado Lotto winnings. On Thursday, the couple drove to Grand Junction soon after learning they won. They said they didn't sleep until after they collected their prize from the Colorado Lottery office at about 9 a.m. Friday.

Local couple plans few big purchases with Lotto winnings

Up until Thursday morning, Craig residents Leo and Pam Fournier thought their home would be foreclosed March 14.

The two are forced to live on disability insurance. Leo ruptured a disc in his back while helping build the Craig Kmart in 1993, and Pam has developed a combination of osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

After three surgeries - when doctors put metal bolts and an electric battery next to his spine and once had to bring him back to life because his heart briefly stopped - Leo, 48, said he feels pain everyday.

Until Friday, anyway.

"No, today that's all numb," Leo said with big laugh.

Ever since depositing $418,123 in his bank account, he said everything seems a little easier.

Leo became Craig's first Colorado Lotto jackpot winner after hitting all six numbers in Wednesday night's drawing. The odds of winning are 1 in 5,245,786.

Although the advertised prize was $1.17 million, Leo took the cash lump sum, which equals about half the total jackpot minus 29 percent in taxes.

He said he chose the cash option as opposed to annual checks, which would have added up to $830,700, after receiving advice from a tax accountant.

"He said that with the way the economy is and everything, it'd better to have the money now," Leo said.

He and Pam drove the next day to Grand Junction, the day he discovered he held the winning quick pick Lotto ticket.

Leo never went to sleep Thursday and showed up at the Colorado Lottery office bright and early Friday morning.

The moment when he discovered his life would change is burned bright in his mind.

Les Self, store manager for Kum & Go at 875 Yampa Ave., started jumping up and down when he ran Leo's tickets through the store's Lotto machine.

Leo didn't get it at first, but when reality dawned, there wasn't anything he could do to get out of there fast enough.

"I ran out of that place," he said. "I ran home. I cried. I still don't believe it."

Leo said one of the first things he did after cashing his check Friday was buy a new 2009 Dodge Ram Dually truck.

He got $10,000 off the sticker price because he paid in cash.

"I only get to do this once," Leo said. "I've got to do it right."

The couple also planned to go out to a nice dinner.

"We're going to go to Red Lobster," he said. "Eat prime rib and lobster."

When they get home, they hope to buy their mobile home, but may look around Craig before deciding on where they want to live.

"I'd like to stay where I'm at, personally," Leo said. "But my wife wants a double-wide."

They also hope to help their families.

Pam has a son and two daughters, one of whom plans to get married in Florida this summer. The couple wants to fly out and help throw a great wedding.

Leo also has a 17-year-old son from a previous marriage who he has not seen in eight years.

"I'm going to hire an attorney and find my son," he said. "I haven't had the money to get an attorney. I'm not going after him; I just want to find him."

The woman who sold Leo the winning ticket, Rose Fief of Smoker Friendly at 40 E. Victory Way, will get a present, too.

"Rose is going to get something from me and Pam," Leo said. "We're going to spread it around a little bit."

And that's about all the couple plans to spend for a while.

"This is going to help us not stress on bills anymore," Leo said. "It's going to help us live a little bit better life, as long as we don't waste it. We're going to be frugal. We're going to go real easy."

As a self-described "Jack Mormon," Leo hasn't spent much time in church recently. However, he said he couldn't help but be thankful for such a "wonderful gift."

"I think God had a lot to do with it," Leo said. "Somebody did - definitely a higher power."

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