$10K win was dress rehearsal; Couple win $1 million just days later.


Byline: Kim Ring

WARE - Retired firefighter Leo F. Dominie has heard that lightning never strikes the same place twice, but after the 72-year-old hit the lottery twice last month he's not inclined to believe it.

Mr. Dominie, a 30-year veteran firefighter, bought a $20 lottery ticket called Billion Dollar Bonanza on a trip to Springfield a few weeks ago and, as always, teased his wife, Claudette L. Dominie, that it was a good one. He scratched it and 10 $1,000 symbols appeared and matched his winning numbers.

"It was pretty good," he said.

Then on a Friday night he headed downtown to buy another ticket at the package store, but instead - and he doesn't know why - he turned his car in the opposite direction. He headed up East Street and went into the Highland Farms convenience store and Sunoco station about a mile from the firehouse.

He got back in the car and started scratching away at the ticket as his wife watched. The familiar adrenaline rush he used to get when the fire whistle blew began taking over once he realized what was happening.

"She said my face changed and she could tell," he said, remembering the moment he saw the letters on the ticket's code. "I was wondering if it was $1 million or $10 million because that ticket has both."

It was $1 million, and that was enough. He wife looked at the ticket and wept in the passenger's seat.

While they were thrilled, the lottery office wouldn't reopen until Monday and the couple kept their secret quiet, fearing what might happen if the wrong person knew they were holding a winning ticket.

"You know people always say they'd like to hit a million but you don't realize the stress," Mr. Dominie said. "My hands were literally shaking. My wife wanted to dig a hole under our mobile home to hide it."

There was hardly any sleep and a close eye was kept on the prize until yesterday morning, when they headed to Springfield to claim the cash.

They were told to stand in a line with other winners whose prizes were much less, but Mr. Dominie leaned in and whispered to the lottery agent, "It's a big one." When she heard how much, the Dominies were whisked away into a private area and given their check.

The Dominies will receive...

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