09/11/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
On Aug. 16 Dan Kerrigan bought a $2 Massachusetts Lottery scratch card at a grocery store and won $20. Encouraged, he decided to try his luck again 15 minutes later. Stopping by the Central Beverage store on the way to his Stoneham home, Kerrigan, father of 1994 Olympic figure-skating silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan, bought three tickets. This time, though, he hit a $1 million jackpot, beating 3.24 million-to-1 odds. "I said to the owner, Chuck Savas, 'Come over here. Take a look at this and see if I'm senile,' " says Kerrigan, 60, who will receive $50,000 a year for the next 20 years.
The news left Nancy, 30, nearly speechless. Traveling with husband Jerry Solomon in Germany, she found out on the phone with her mom, Brenda, who was babysitting Nancy's son Matthew, 3. "I didn't believe it at first," Nancy says. But Brenda, 60, figures her husband was due. "That's what happens when you get old, you get a lot of practice at things," she jokes. "And he has had an awful lot of practice at scratching tickets, I found out. After he won, people would say, 'Nobody deserves it more than him. Every time I saw him, he was scratching a ticket.' "
That is, when he wasn't working. While the couple's three kids were growing up, Kerrigan, a welder at the Kraft plant in Woburn for the past 30 years, would take on odd jobs to support the family and pay Nancy's skating bills. (Brenda, who is legally blind, didn't work.) "I planned on retiring within a year or a year and a half," says Kerrigan, who will spend some of his windfall on travel. "This makes it much easier."