Early morning phone calls usually do not mean good news, but that is exactly what Barry Samuel of Metairie delivered when he called his daughter at six o'clock Sunday morning -- he had matched all six Lotto numbers to win the nearly $2 million jackpot from the Feb. 21 drawing.

"I checked the numbers in the Sunday paper and screamed," said Samuel, age 63. "I told my wife to give me the other paper, checked those numbers and saw they matched again. We don't have a computer, so I called my daughter and asked her to check the numbers on the Web site."

"When I called that early, she was worried," he continued. "As soon as I told her that I thought I had won, she came running over!"
 
A loyal Lottery player, Samuel said he has been playing since the Lottery's inception.  He uses a system to make checking his tickets easier. 

"I memorize the first four winning numbers out of the paper, then go through my tickets," he explained. "That morning, I briefly glanced at the fifth number, 17, and sixth number, 27. I checked my tickets and saw those numbers. That's when I screamed."

Samuel said he plans to use his winnings to pay off business loans he acquired after Hurricane Katrina and for trips he has planned.

The jackpot amount for the Feb. 21 Lotto drawing was $1,979,979. Samuel received $1,385,985 after federal and state taxes were withheld. The winning numbers were 1-4-9-13-17-27.

Samuel purchased his winning ticket from Discount Stop on Metairie Road in Metairie. Discount Stop will receive a bonus of $19,799, or 1 percent of the jackpot prize, for selling the winning ticket.

Ticket purchasers must be at least 21 years of age.  Draw-style game tickets must be claimed within 180 days of the drawing.  Anyone who may have a gambling problem or friends and family of anyone with a gambling problem should call toll free 1-877-770-7867 for help.  For security purposes, the Lottery strongly encourages players to sign the back of their tickets immediately after purchasing.  More information about other Lotto winners can be found in the "Meet Our Winners" section of the Lottery's Web site, www.louisianalottery.com.