Airman wins D.C. Lottery $1 Million Grand Prize at Nationals Park

Staff Sergeant Timothy Ruch came to Nationals Park on July 5 to enjoy a game of baseball with his friend on what, he later realized, was a special night to honor military families with First Lady Michelle Obama. By the end of the evening, he was a million dollars richer.

On his way out of the ballpark, Tim purchased a D.C. Gold Scratcher from one of the two D.C. lottery vending machines on the main concourse. When he scratched off his ticket, he was shocked at what he saw.

“I was sitting right behind the Nationals dugout for the game and got to see the First Lady up close,” Ruch said. “I had seen the machine earlier in the day and I told my friend that I was going to put in 40 bucks, just for fun. I put the money in, and the first ticket I scratched off said $1 million dollars! I was walking right past the outfield and I kissed the ground right out there.”

When he called his wife to tell her the news, she was skeptical.

“She didn’t really believe me at first,” Ruch recounted. “So I had my buddy take a picture of the ticket with his camera phone and sent it to her. About five minutes later she called me back ready for me to get home and show it to her.”

Ruch became the first to win the D.C. Lottery’s $1 Million Grand Prize. In the three weeks since, he has considered various ways to spend his new riches.

“It’s been crazy,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do the smart thing with the money, putting it away for my nieces and nephews for college, trying to pay off some more bills, and relax a little bit. We might splurge and buy a few things here and there, but I’m not going to go crazy.”

After serving in the U.S. Air Force for more than eight years, he hopes to now use his winnings to settle down in the D.C. area.

“I got back in March from Iraq,” Ruch said. “I was there from September through March, so it was my first Nationals game of the season. I’ve got another year and a half on my enlistment, and my wife’s got two years. We’re actually closing on a new house, hopefully by next week. A month ago I didn’t know if we would be able to afford a house, and now I think we’ll be okay.”

Last Friday night, the D.C. Lottery presented Tim with a ceremonial check in honor of his win before the Nationals took on the Mets. Ruch and his wife took in batting practice from the field and spent some time with the team that had brought him luck.

“Just being able to be down on the field with the Nats is pretty cool,” Ruch said. “I’m a big Nationals fan and to actually be on the field with them, and winning with them, has been pretty great.”

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