Winner claims Hoosier Lotto's record $54.5M jackpot

Lotto winner Peter Gilbert and his son Tony
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David MacAnally/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A retired steelworker is Indiana's latest millionaire.

Peter Gilbert of East Chicago was introduced by Hoosier Lottery officials Tuesday as the winner of the record $54.5 million jackpot. He came to lottery headquarters with his wife and their son to claim his prize, taking the cash option which will pay him $40.4 million.

Gilbert says he will invest some of the money and take care of his family, including setting up a trust fund for his two grandchildren. His son Tony, a detective with the East Chicago Police, was asked if he'll keep working. His answer was brief.

"No," he said.

"I want a Hummer," said Ann, Peter's wife.

Jamaica and Hawaii are on their itinerary, and the 62-year-old winner wants to spend some of his prize on the golf course.

Peter has played the lottery for years, and last year he picked his numbers using his grandchildren's ages and the age of his pit bull, Caesar. That combination paid off big for the Gilberts.

"We love our dog," Ann said. "That dog is blessed."

When Ann heard the big winner was from East Chicago, she woke her husband up to check his numbers. When he said he was the winner, she thought he was playing around, so they called Tony to come over and check the numbers. He said he thought his dad was sick when he was told to come right over, but instead, the news was happy. He looked at the ticket, back and forth, and said "we're rich now" before Peter gathered the family to pray.

The single winning ticket for last Wednesday's drawing was sold at a Mobil gas station in East Chicago. It was the first Hoosier Lotto jackpot hit since October 21, 2006, and broke the previous record jackpot of $42 million.

"I always thought I was going to win," Peter said. "Not this much, but I always thought I was going to win."

The family also plans to share their winnings with charity.