DES MOINES, Iowa – A man who immigrated from Kenya to the United States found prosperity beyond his expectations on the day he became a U.S. citizen.
"It's almost like you adopted a country and then they netted you $1.8 million," Bittok said Monday as he cashed in his ticket. "It doesn't happen anywhere — I guess only in America."
Bittok said he took the citizenship oath at the federal building in Des Moines Friday then went shopping with his family. They stopped at a gas station to check his lottery ticket from the Sept. 21 drawing.
"For some reason, I'm calm," he said. His wife, Leonida, screamed.
Bittok, 40, an officer at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (search) in Mitchellville, said he doesn't know exactly what he will do with his winnings, but a college fund for the couples 4-year-old daughter, Mindy, is top priority.
Bittok chose to receive his winnings in 25 annual payments of about $52,920 after taxes.
He came to the U.S. to attend college in Minnesota, then moved to Iowa to take the job at the women's prison.
He had purchased the winning ticket at a West Des Moines grocery store, where he once worked part time.
Hot Lotto tickets are sold in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota and West Virginia.