By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Three weeks ago, they were just numbers printed on a piece of paper in the back pocket of some guy's jeans.
But the numbers on a ticket that Dalton Dahlke purchased almost as an afterthought at the B N' W Foods in Inverness became numbers in his bank account.
Six figure numbers.
On April 23, Dahlke, an Inverness native and former bar and supper club owner, won the Montana Wild Card Jackpot and a cool $278,000. Well, he pointed out, after taxes it was only $175,750.85.
"It didn't bother me," he said Thursday. "I never went hog wild. It ain't like I won a hundred million dollars."
There was no wild trip to Vegas, no flashy new vehicle, no expensive wardrobe or gold jewelry or even a victory cigar for Dahlke, who turns 71 in July.
In fact, he didn't even bother to go to the state lottery office in Helena to cash in his winning ticket.
He sent it through the mail and went to work the next day.
But don't try to tell him he doesn't seem very excited to have won the lottery. After all, he "didn't sleep all that much" the night he won, and "it is kind of nice to have a little money in the bank."
Dahlke said he has no immediate plans for the money, but may invest in a new motor home sometime in the future. He said he thinks he could buy a pretty nice one for $175,000.
Dahlke won using the same lotto numbers he has picked for years: 4, 7, 11, 13, 19, and the wild card King of Clubs. The numbers are a variation of his family's birthdays, and the king was just an impulse, he said.
When the winning numbers were played on TV, Dahlke was mildly excited, he said. The numbers were only on for few seconds, just long enough to confirm that the numbers matched, but he did not see what the wild card had been, he said.
Knowing he had already won five thousand dollars, Dahlke called the lottery hotline to find out if he had also scored with the king. The call confirmed it - Dahlke had hit the jackpot.
"Yeah, I guess I was pretty excited," he said. "The wild card made the difference between five thousand and the jackpot."
Did he make a million phone calls to spread the good news?
"I didn't tell anyone except my daughter and my wife," he said. "My wife was more excited than I was."
The next day he mailed the winning ticket to Helena and went to work at the Inverness Bar and Supper Club. Dahlke owned the club for 37 years before he sold it to his daughter and son-in-law in 1997. Today he helps out at the bar, occasionally bartending when he is asked to.
It took nearly two weeks for Dahlke to receive his check. During a ceremony last Friday at the B N' W Food Farm, he was given the check, along with a Montana Lottery sweatshirt and cap.
The check went in the bank and the sweatshirt and cap went in the closet, Dahlke said.
The lottery winner said he is not sure if he will continue to play the same numbers.
"They may never come up again unless I get struck by lightning twice," he said, adding that he will probably continue to buy lottery tickets.
"You only need one to win," he said.