Coudersport man wins million in Rome
Gary Collins: Pennsylvania resident, 23-year Army veteran, father, truck driver, and now millionaire.
The Coudersport, Pa. man recently received one of the best early Christmas presents he could ask for at an unlikely location, the Dandy Mini Mart in Rome. Collins won $1 million at the Dandy on Sunday at approximately 5:45 p.m.
Collins, who has been in the area working for Thomas Trucking for the last three years, said Sunday seemed like just a regular day.
He pulled into the Dandy that evening and decided to cash in a $20 winning scratch off lottery ticket that had been laying in his truck for about a month.
With the money he got, he purchased a $20 Platinum Millions scratch off and sat down inside the store to scratch it off. The rest, as they say, is history.
"The first thing I did was check it about four times ... I didn't believe it. Then I said 'Holy moly I actually won,' and some other choice words," Collins said of that night. He then "thanked the Lord" as it started to sink in that his life had changed.
Collins hasn't had time to decide exactly how he will spend the money, but he said some of it will be used to pay off his daughter's college bills. His daughter was in college for 8 years becoming a doctor and the bills were a point of financial difficulty, Collins said.
Collins also plans early retirement saying, "Hopefully I won't have to work again for the rest of my life now."
As for the rest of the money, Collins is looking to invest as much as he can and use the money for retirement.
"I have a lot of relatives in the investment and financial business and I will work with them so I can plan for my early retirement," Collins said.
After taxes, Collins said he expects to get approximately $750,000 from the winning ticket. The money will be received about six weeks from now, as he plans to mail the ticket and accompanying form to PA Lottery Headquarters in Wilkes-Barre as soon as possible.
"The good thing about winning this in Pennsylvania is that there is no state tax imposed on winning lottery tickets," Collins said.
Collins frequented the Dandy Mini Mart in Rome often, and had built up a relationship with all of the workers before winning the money.
"The workers here are great. I have already made plans with them to take all of them out to dinner and give each $500 and have a night out on the casino," Collins said.
The Dandy Mini Mart in Rome will be receiving an unknown amount of money from the PA Lottery for selling the million dollar ticket.
Collins thinks that Dandy Mini Mart owner Randy Williams should set aside some of the money received for the employees that have treated him so well in Rome.
"I would love to see Williams give money to the employees in Rome as a bonus for selling the ticket and being a part of this. These people put up with a lot working here, and they deserve it," Collins said.
For the holidays, Collins is looking forward to spending time with his girlfriend and family.