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Jackpot! MacDill master sergeant wins millions in Ohio lottery

by 1st. Lt. Erin Dorrance
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Master Sgt. James Cairl shows off his winning ticket.

Courtesy photo

After 20 years of scratching off tickets, Master Sgt. James Cairl could hardly believe it went he won $7.5 million Sunday.

"It was a joyous occasion," said Sergeant Cairl.

Sergeant Cairl finished his out process at MacDill from the 6th Services Squadron April 25 and was spending a couple weeks of leave in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, before he started his new assignment at the 52nd Services Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.

His first reaction after scratching off the $20 ticket was one of disbelief.

"I was in a daze at first," he said. "I never thought I would win the top prize."

Sergeant Cairl was not the only one shocked at his winnings. He said his father did not believe him until he arrived at the local Sammy's Mart and saw it for himself. When his mother arrived home from church, she had to sit down when she received the news that was shortly followed by hugs and kisses he said.

Sergeant Cairl has been in the Air Force for 18 years and plans on continuing to retirement.

"I have committed 18 years of my life to the Air Force and I don't plan on getting out just because of this. I want to fulfill my commitment and retire at 20 [years]."

Air Force Instruction does not require discharging a military member who wins the lottery. However, Sergeant Cairl may request separation if so inclined and that request may be granted or denied at the discretion of the best interest of the Air Force.

The lump sum would leave Sergeant Cairl with about $4,142,972 or about $3 million after state and federal taxes which total 28.5 percent.

Sergeant Cairl said his first big purchase would be a new car. He said his Pontiac has 133,000 miles and he had been planning to purchase a new one.

He also plans on investing the money and taking care of his retired mother, who used to be an office manager for an insurance company and his father, who was a computer programmer.

"I am still the same person I have always been and I don't plan on changing," he said. "The only difference is now I have some money to help out my family, something I couldn't do before."

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