SOUTH BRANCH, Mich. - Ervin Smolinski has a birthday tradition -- he gets lottery tickets as presents.
It started when he began buying his family tickets as birthday presents, and they started returning the favor. For his 94th birthday, the World War II vet's goodwill effort turned into $300,000 of cold, hard cash.
"Every month, I buy some instant tickets and send them as gifts to family members who have birthdays that month," Smolinski said in a statement. "It's turned in to a bit of a tradition, and now everyone sends me scratch-offs and chocolate for my birthday."
The South Branch, Michigan, resident got the Double Bonus Cashword ticket from his daughter-in-law. Even though he now is quite a bit richer than before his win, Smolinski has no extravagant plans. Smolinski said he is going to buy a new shed and a better used car. The rest of it, he said, he's going to invest.
Smolinski explained: "I'm pretty frugal, I always shop sales and take care of my money and that won't change."
"The only thing that will change is I won't have as much stress in my life worrying about money," the former sailor said.
The $300,000 payout was the biggest prize that Smolinski could have won from the lottery. What better way to celebrate your 94th birthday?