Sgt. 1st Class Misty Bowman won a $2.5 million top prize playing Millionaire Jumbo Bucks, a Georgia Lottery instant game. (Courtesy Georgia Lottery)
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Back in Georgia after two years stationed in Baumholder, Germany, Sgt. 1st Class Misty Bowman began buying scratch-off lottery tickets at a convenience store outside Hunter Army Airfield, mostly as “a stress reliever.”
In January, she won $25,000 on a single $20 ticket. In February, she pocketed another $5,000. She slowed up on the tickets after finding out she was pregnant, intent on building a nest egg.
Then in late July, splurging with a few dollars left over after paying some bills, she scratched off her second of two Millionaire Jumbo Bucks instant game cards and saw she’d won the grand prize — $2.5 million.
Instant nest egg. The stress never had a chance.
“I’m just putting it away like I don’t have it,” Bowman, 36, said in a Thursday interview. “I’m not too young, but I’m young — I just want to save it for my 60-65 [year-old] range. Just put it away and act like it isn’t there.”
Bowman, who deployed three times to Iraq as a member of 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, and has served for 18 years, said she’ll stay in uniform despite her winnings, which amount to about $1.7 million after taxes. However, her original plans to stay on a year or two beyond the 20-year threshold may have fallen to the wayside.
The Ephrata, Pennsylvania, native called her sister from the convenience store immediately to share the news, she said. Later that day, she called her first sergeant, who thought she was kidding.
“She said, ‘Stop messing with me, Sgt. Bowman,’ but then she congratulated me,” Bowman said.
After a week of setting up the proper bank paperwork, and shedding some serious disbelief, Bowman, a food service noncommissioned officer with Headquarters Support Company, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, claimed the prize at the district lottery office in Savannah.
She wanted to keep her winnings as private as possible, but a news release from the lottery commission got traction in local media, making her quite possibly the second-most-famous person in the 603rd: Soldier-singer Pfc. Paul Ieti, a petroleum supply specialist with A Company, could become the unit’s next millionaire if he wins the grand prize on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
Soon after Bowman’s news broke, the unit’s most recent millionaire started getting the same request from her fellow soldiers — an odd one, especially for a mom-to-be.
“People have asked, can I adopt them?” she said. “It’s a very common question. Or, sometimes, ‘Hey, can I get a few dollars?’ ”
Bowman’s actual, not-adopted-for-the-money child, her first, is due in December. The college fund is a top priority, she said.■