$1 million lottery prize surprises A.J. couple - East Valley Tribune: News

$1 million lottery prize surprises A.J. couple

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Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2010 10:09 am | Updated: 3:52 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

For one Apache Junction couple, the New Year has brought them a million reasons to celebrate 2010.

Roger and Deanna Phillips decided to drop by the Phoenix office of the Arizona Lottery on Wednesday to pick up their winnings - which they thought amounted to about $1,000.

"We could use $1,000, so we decided to drive over there before the traffic got bad, and then we'd head to the gym," Deanna Phillips said, adding that when they arrived they were asked whether they knew how much money they won. "We said maybe $1,000, but then they said, 'you won $1 million.' If I would have known I was going to be a millionaire, I would have changed out of my gym clothes."

Arizona Lottery officials said the couple won the first Millionaire Raffle ticket they had ever brought.

"The best part of our jobs is when a new $1 million winner walks through our doors and allows us to celebrate with them," said Jeff Hatch-Miller, executive director of the Arizona Lottery. "We're especially excited to be sharing this momentous event with such a wonderful couple who won big with our Millionaire Raffle Holiday Edition."

Deanna Phillips, who describes her life with fellow Idaho native Roger as "humble," said they purchased a ticket at their neighborhood Circle K.

"We've had a sparse life, and we're very frugal. I even do my own canning," Deanna Phillips said. "We just both kind of watch our pennies."

The couple will have been married 50 years later this year.

Deanna Phillips said she and her husband were emotional at first, but then the surreal nature of their day faded - slowly on the drive back to the East Valley.

"We just got tears in our eyes," she said. "Then we came home and finished our leftovers."

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