Berryville man wins $500,000

Friday, June 4, 2010 ~ Updated 1:26 PM
Tommy Rylee posed with his daughter Taylor Rylee at the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Claim Center in Springdale where he went to pick up his winning check. The poultry plant worker purchased a $10 scratch off ticket at the Exxon station in Berryville to win the big prize. Photo submitted

BERRYVILLE -- Tommy Rylee's four-year string of bad luck ended last week when a $10 scratch-off ticket landed him a $500,000 lottery prize.

He bought the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery instant ticket at the Exxon station in Berryville, Rylee said, because "something told me to buy it."

The Tyson Foods plant employee said he's been living in a motel room and doesn't have a vehicle because he experienced the "worst luck" the last four years.

Sickness along with an auto accident that totaled his car left him in debt with no home or car.

"It's been one thing after another," said the 56-year-old who has been traveling between Berryville and Springfield, Mo., where he occasionally works a second job in the aircraft industry.

"I was living payday to payday," he said. "This is a blessing. It will sure change things."

Rylee said he purchased the ticket early in the day after working all night at Tyson.

"I had played on and off in the past," he said. "That day, something told me to buy it. It was a $10 scratch off."

Rylee said he returned to his motel room with the ticket.

"I scratched off the ones you match. I hit a 7. I thought, 'ah, $10.' I kept scratching and thought 'oh no! That can't be right!' But it was! I sat there shaking for a while."

Rylee said he contacted his daughter Taylor Rylee, a recent Berryville High School graduate, and together they made the drive to Springdale to claim his prize.

"It was a $500,000 ticket but it was a $340,000 check after taxes," he said. "I put it directly in the bank and I haven't touched a penny."

Rylee said he plans to clean up his credit, buy a vehicle, and maybe purchase a house in Berryville -- "because I like Berryville and I always have."

Otherwise, this single man who was once down on his luck plans to live wisely, keep his job and invest his windfall to carry him into the golden years.

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