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Million-dollar smile

By Staff | Feb 19, 2012

Ben Ramos Sr.

Recently, two women played a big role in a Wells disabled veteran’s life.

First it was a telephone call from his ex-wife Barbara urging him to play the Gopher 5 lotto game because the jackpot was getting large.

Ben Ramos Sr. seldom plays Gopher 5, so he spent $3 and bought three tickets for the Feb. 3 drawing.


Ramos decided to try the game one last time. So, he purchased four tickets for the drawing on Feb. 10.

Afterall, the jackpot was now more than $1.285 million.

Ramos waited until 11 p.m. to check the numbers on his computer.

The first three tickets he checked none of the numbers matched.

Then, Lady Luck took over.

“Oh my God! I couldn’t believe it. I must have checked the numbers five times,” says Ramos.

“I’ve spent a lot of money for the past 25 years playing lottos. Lady Luck must have got sick of me losing,” he adds.

On Monday, Ramos and Barbara were on the road to the lottery headquarters located in Roseville to collect his winnings.

“That weekend was the longest one in my life. I couldn’t sleep,” he says.

“Last night, was the first good night’s sleep I’ve had,” Ramos told the Register on Wednesday.

Monday was a long day for Ramos, he took a nearly 10-hour roundtrip drive from Wells to Aitkin, where he does his banking to deposit his check.

Ramos hasn’t been able to spend any of his sudden fortune because he has to wait for the lotto check to clear.

After taxes, his take-home winnings total $870,596.

“Monday the banks aren’t open because of a holiday. I have to wait until Tuesday,” he says.

The 64-year-old Ramos is a Puerto Rico native who was drafted and served in Vietnam and Germany. His war injuries include a damaged spleen.

Ramos doesn’t plan to make any changes in his lifestyle.

“I’ll still be me. I’m not any better than anyone else. I just got lucky,” he says.

He has no dependents living with him; just a 3-year-old dog named Thunder and a cat, Stormy.

Ramos is making a list of how to spend his money.

“I’m looking for a house in Arizona and will pay all my bills,” he says. “I’ll give money to my loved ones. I haven’t decided how much.”

“I also want to buy that vehicle (Escape) that parks itself,” he says. “I’ll save money for a rainy day.”

His home phone has been ringing off the hook.

By Wednesday, nearly 25 messages had been left, most of them media requests for an interview.

The most important calls have been from family members and those he has attended Alcoholic Anonymous meetings with.

Ramos pulls out of his pocket a gold medallion signifying he has been sober for 10 years.

“All the money in the world can’t buy you happiness and good health,” he says. “I’m a better person now. I think differently and clearer about things.”

Any advice to someone hoping to win in the lottery?

“To win, you have to play. Just have fun, because you may play a lot and never hit the big one.”