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'Prankster' lottery winner struggles to convince daughters of $1M prize

Michael Hoogerwerf won a $1 million Mega Millions prize from the Iowa Lottery. Photo courtesy of the Iowa Lottery
Michael Hoogerwerf won a $1 million Mega Millions prize from the Iowa Lottery. Photo courtesy of the Iowa Lottery

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July 19 (UPI) -- An Iowa man who won a $1 million Mega Millions jackpot said his status as the family "prankster" complicated his efforts to convince his three adult daughters his lottery luck was real.

Michael "Hoogie" Hoogerwerf, 70, told Iowa Lottery officials he bought his ticket for the June 23 Mega Millions drawing at Smokin' Joe's in Davenport, and the manager of the store called him the next day while he was on a charity motorcycle ride.

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Hoogerwerf pulled the ticket out of his wallet and compared his numbers to those being read to him by the manager.

"And then she about passed out, I think," Hoogerwerf recalled. "She was more excited than I was. I just kind of took it in stride. Apparently though, on the ride home, our ride was done at that point, so we left the group and went on home. And I did release the handlebar and do a fist pump -- twice."

Hoogerwerf said he then set about the process of trying to convince his three daughters that he wasn't playing one of his jokes.

"I'm a bit of a prankster," he said. "But I just talked with them personally and said, 'It's true, it's real.'"

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The winner's daughters accompanied him to lottery headquarters to collect his prize.

"I believe him now, absolutely. Or this is the best prank ever," daughter Melissa Heeren said.

Hoogerwerf said he has plans for his winnings.

"I've been doing a lot of thinking about that," he said. "The first thing is, the homestead is getting a facelift. And then there will be some investments."

He said one project is at the top of his list.

"I would actually like to have electricity in my garage," he said.

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