The winning numbers were called that night, but Slatten wouldn’t know he had them until he took a break from running errands the next day, he told The Washington Post.
“I left the water company, and I pulled the lottery app up on my phone. I recognized two of the numbers on my ticket,” he said. “I pulled out my ticket and I noticed every single number was matching up as I was driving down the road.”
Slatten sent the news to his wife, Michelle Doll, in a text before rushing to the local restaurant where she worked. Doll stood on the corner, confused — she had never seen his messages.
“I showed her the ticket and I showed her the app,” he said, adding that she was crying happy tears. “She kept looking at the ticking and looking at me.”
The pair agreed to keep the million-dollar ticket in a special place before cashing it in for a lump sum. But Slatten broke that promise when he pulled it out to show it to his brother, whom Slatten hadn’t seen in about seven years.
Somewhere between their drive to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts for a car part, Taco Bell and back to his brother’s hotel, Slatten realized he had lost the ticket. He emptied out his pockets, panicking.
Slatten retraced his steps to the car shop and raced back to find it lying on the ground next to another truck. He ran over to the ticket and grabbed it with relief.
Slatten said he was lucky his wife was at work, or she would have been furious that he left the house with it. “I should have never had the ticket in my pocket,” he said.
The lottery commission encourages winners to sign their tickets immediately after buying them in the event that they become lost or stolen. Slatten’s win is public because Tennessee doesn’t allow for lottery winners to remain anonymous.
Slatten said he and Doll plan to speak with a financial adviser for help with investing and making major purchases such as a house and cars.
And he says he might lay a little less tile in the future.
“I told [my boss] that I wouldn’t quit but I wouldn’t care if he slowed down on the work,” he said.