The odds were 840,000 to 1, but Michael Engfors beat them, winning $500,000 on a lottery scratch-off ticket in Aspen, Colo., on Friday, NBC News reports. And "it couldn't happen to a better type of person," Jeremy Kowalis, a rep from a local homeless shelter, tells KUSA, noting that Engfors, said to be 60 or 61, has "seen a bottom that has pushed him right to the edge." That "bottom" has included losing his business, seeing his marriage end, and dealing with alcoholism, leading him to the ranks of the homeless for more than six years.
A clerk at the gas station where Engfors purchased the $10 winning ticket tells the Aspen Times that Engfors is a regular lotto player who usually cashes in $1 or $2 winners. "All the time, he's outside," she says. "He comes in all the time with winning tickets." After he realized he had won, Engfors went to spend one final weekend on the floor of a nearby church before starting to spread the news. "Michael never gave up. He knew that if he kept pushing on, eventually his luck would change," Kowalis tells KUSA, adding that Engfors would use the money to try to reconnect with a daughter he hadn't seen in more than two decades. (A homeless Hungarian man used his last coins to buy a lottery ticket and walked away with $2.8 million.)