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Mitchell woman claims $177,068 Dakota Cash jackpot

PIERRE -- After a week of keeping it a secret from everyone, including most of her family, Mitchell's Michelle Bathke finally broke the news: she's the owner of the jackpot-winning ticket from the May 18 Dakota Cash drawing.

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Michelle Bathke displays her big check from the South Dakota Lottery on Friday. (Photo courtesy of South Dakota Lottery)
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PIERRE -- After a week of keeping it a secret from everyone, including most of her family, Mitchell's Michelle Bathke finally broke the news: she's the owner of the jackpot-winning ticket from the May 18 Dakota Cash drawing.

Friday, Bathke claimed her $177,068 prize at the Sioux Falls Lottery office. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 324,632.

The winning ticket was purchased at Casey's General Store on Main Street in Mitchell, which will receive a bonus of $5,000 for selling the Quick Pick ticket. Bathke, who's an occasional lottery player, said it wasn't the large jackpot for that night's drawing that prompted her to buy a ticket.

"I was driving by Casey's and just happened to have some time, so I thought I'd stop in and pick up a ticket," she said in a news release.

She found out the day after the drawing what a good idea that was. Bathke was doing some work on her home computer when she remembered that she'd purchased a ticket, so she pulled up the Lottery website to check her numbers.

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"At that point, I didn't even know somebody from Mitchell had won," she said. "I was shocked to see that my numbers matched, and then I couldn't believe I had the winning ticket. So I called my husband and made him come home and look at the ticket, too. He confirmed that I had a winner."

It was then that the couple made the decision to keep the good news to themselves until they could get to Sioux Falls to claim the jackpot.

"No one knew until last night (Thursday); then we told my parents and our kids. It was hard keeping it a secret the first day or two, but after that it got easier," Bathke said.

Bathke, who sells real estate for Crane Realty in Mitchell, and her husband, Jeff, have three children. While some of her winnings will pay for upgrades to the family's home, she also plans to save and invest a good portion of the money. She said although it's been a week since the drawing, a bit of the shock of being a jackpot winner still remains.

"It's still exciting," she said. "And it's nice to have the extra money. As to whether I'll keep playing, when I think about buying a ticket, I will."

The lottery win is a welcome turn of luck for the Bathkes. Michelle and Jeff owned the Cactus Bar on Main Street in Mitchell before a fire destroyed the business in June 2008.

According to the South Dakota Lottery website, 28 percent of lottery winnings for prizes totaling more than $5,000 are withheld for tax purposes by the Internal Revenue Service. That means the Bathkes will take home $127,488.96 after taxes.

Dakota Cash is played and won only in South Dakota. The jackpot currently sits at $20,000 for the next drawing on Saturday.

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