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Brothers, Tinley Park bartender feel like a million bucks

Tom Blokel left; his brother Jeff Blokel center; Cathy McGuinn right bartender Boston's The Gourmet Pizzcelebrate their Halloween Millionaire Raffle

Tom Blokel, left; his brother Jeff Blokel, center; and Cathy McGuinn, right, a bartender at Boston's The Gourmet Pizza, celebrate their Halloween Millionaire Raffle winning ticket at the eatery in Tinley Park. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 9, 2012 7:35PM



In a magical moment, two brothers and their favorite bartender conjured up a winning ticket in the Illinois Lottery’s Halloween Millionaire Raffle, turning a $100 investment into $1 million in cash.

After chipping in for five $20 raffle tickets at Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza in Tinley Park, the three will share the cool million.

“Yeah, it was worth it,” Cathy McGuinn, Boston’s head bartender, said Wednesday of their investment as she high-fived brothers Tom and Jeff Blokel at the restaurant, 7216 W. 191st St., in the Brookside Marketplace shopping center.

The Halloween Millionaire Raffle is played like a typical raffle, with a unique ticket number automatically generated by the terminal. According to the Illinois Lottery website, a limited number of 500,000 tickets were sold, with odds of 1 in 982 of winning amounts of $1,000, $100,000 or $1 million.

The trio regularly play a variety of lottery games, but this is their first time hitting a big one.

“My stomach couldn’t handle any more than this,” Tom Blokel, of Oak Forest, said of the amount.

When he checked the numbers on the computer at work the day after Halloween, he immediately told Jeff, with whom he works — after making sure Jeff put down the electrical equipment he was working on so he wouldn’t shock himself.

They double-checked the numbers before telling McGuinn.

The Blokel brothers like to stop in at Boston’s after work, for a snack and a cold beer, and usually roll over their small winnings — if any — into more lottery tickets, said Jeff, of Tinley Park.

“There’s not a chance this will be rolled over,” Tom Blokel said of the $1 million.

They all plan to pay off some bills and put money toward their children’s college educations, they said. No one plans to quit their jobs.

“We’ll come up with something fun to do together,” Tom said. “We’re a family now.”

“It’s not even real to me,” said Jeff’s wife, Leslie. “It’s just a way to make life a little easier. I cannot imagine winning more.”

Their winning number — 137958 — was one of four in the state that won $1 million in the raffle. Other winning tickets were bought in Cary, Petersburg and Streamwood.

“We kept it quiet until it was official,” Jeff Blokel said.

Lisa Helwig, service manager at Boston’s, said the restaurant installed the lottery machines earlier this year, and this is their first big winner. The establishment gets a $10,000 payout, 1 percent of the prize amount.

“I couldn’t be happier that deserving people won it. We hoped it would be regulars, that it would be someone we all knew,” Helwig said. “They can’t stop smiling.”



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