Fresno woman, 76, wins $1 million from lottery scratcher

The Fresno BeeMarch 11, 2014 

Willy DeVecchio, 76, left, and her husband Pete DeVecchio, 93, of Fresno with a $1 million in winnings from a lottery scratcher won Friday at Elite Liquors in northwest Fresno.

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Sitting at home Tuesday morning, Willy DeVecchio, 76, of Fresno was surprised to keep scratching off more "zeros" on her lottery scratcher.

Maybe $10,000? Or maybe $1 million, she soon realized.

All scratched off, she threw the ticket at her 93-year-old husband, Pete DeVecchio, sitting across from her.

He checked and studied, finally looking up: "That is a million dollars!"

They rushed to the California Lottery office in Fresno around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to confirm what their eyes told them. After more than 30 years of playing the lottery, the couple finally landed a whopper.

The winning scratcher, one of the California Lottery's Black Exclusive Scratchers, was purchased for $10 by Willy DeVecchio at Elite Liquors at Herndon and Marks avenues in northwest Fresno. DeVecchio said she and her husband usually stop by the liquor store several times a week -- what they've done for about eight years -- to play the lottery.

Willy DeVecchio is retired from a career in food service, once owning a restaurant in Oakhurst in the 1980s, and her husband worked for almost 40 years as a service technician at Sears. Before their $1 million win Tuesday, the couple was shopping for a new kitchen stove at Sears and griping about the prices.

No longer.

They haven't decided what they'll spend their $1 million on, but said they don't want to move from Fresno. Pete DeVecchio was born and raised in the city and they like their two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo .

They live a relatively quiet life and stick around the house, mostly. They enjoy watching television shows "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune," along with the "anticipation" of playing the lottery, Willy DeVecchio said.

Without children or pets, and no memberships with service groups or clubs, she added they are "free as a bird." But, she said they will likely give some winnings away to family.

In the past, Willy DeVecchio won $500 a couple times from lottery scratchers, and once $1,000, but never something this big.

According to the lottery, there have been three $1 million winners via these scratchers, with 21 more $1 million tickets available. The odds for a $1 million win is one in 1,200,000 people, according to the website.

The DeVecchios paid a visit to Elite Liquors on Tuesday afternoon with their ceremonial, oversized $1 million check to share the good news with owner Bob Bhaurla. Willy DeVecchio was "very excited and was kind of shaking" when she walked back in, Bhaurla said.

Bhaurla described the DeVecchios as a "happy couple." He felt "very good" about selling them the winning scratcher: "We made someone a millionaire."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, cgeorge@fresnobee.com or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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