Most people buy a lottery ticket, and if it’s not a winner they toss it. Some buy tickets and forget where they put them. Then, there’s George Kozak. He can account for every Ohio Lottery ticket he’s ever purchased. He’s got an entire collection of them.
I met George after his daughter, Mary, called the Ohio Lottery communications office. She explained that her mother and father had moved to an assisted living facility, and she and her siblings were cleaning out their house. Mary found a group of neatly stacked binders in the basement, and when she opened them she discovered that they were full of Ohio Lottery tickets dating back to the first drawing in 1974. She hated to throw away all of those years of work and she wanted to give the tickets to the Lottery Commission.
George, who is now 88 years old, grew up inPennsylvania and ended up in Cleveland after he returned from World War II. Over the years he says he’s kept collections of license plates, autographs, napkins from events he has attended, and matchbooks. When voters approved the creation of the Ohio Lottery, he thought it was a great opportunity to start a collection from the very beginning. The first day tickets went on sale George headed out in search of one, which didn’t prove easy. He says he went to two stores before he found his first ticket. Every day he stopped at The Store, a lottery retailer on Broadview Roadin Seven Hills, to pick up a ticket. When there was a new game released, George made sure the retailer held the first ticket for him.
His collection would be enviable to anyone who has to fill the family photo album or keep a detailed ledger. The tickets are neatly organized, taped to paper and slipped between plastic sleeves tucked into a number of three ring binders. George even took the time to chronicle the winning numbers and prize amounts.
With George’s blessing, I stacked up the binders and loaded them into my car. Now they sit in my office as we work to put together a display in George’s name for our central office lobby.
I have no idea how much George spent building his lottery ticket collection over the last 30 years, but he did win from time to time. George says the most he ever won was $1,200 on the same day he was taking his car in for new tires. Yes, he used part of the winnings to pay for the tires.
Click the link to see George’s story!