Extra Play produces a winner in Peabody

Josif Bigiku holds an enlarged version of his winning ticket.


PEABODY Life just got a little easier for Josif Bigiku.

The Peabody resident is the first $1 million prize winner in the Massachusetts State Lottery’s new “Extra Plays” $5 instant ticket game.

It’s the state’s first instant ticket to feature extra chances to win on the back of the ticket. That’s where Bigiku uncovered a winning symbol and the amount of his prize.

Bigiku chose the cash option and received a one-time payment of $650,000, less taxes.  

Not your ‘Normal’ theater experience

He told Lottery executives that he plans to use the winnings to pay off his oldest daughter’s student loans and pay for his youngest daughter to attend college.  

Bigiku said he also plans to make charitable donations.

The winning ticket was purchased at the Sunoco station on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge.  The store will receive a $10,000 bonus for its sale.

There are a total of four $1 million prizes remaining in the “Extra Plays” instant ticket game, which went on sale in April, the Lottery said.

Bigiku could not be reached for comment.


A spin of a lifetime for ‘Wheel of Fortune’ fan

James Magner’s episode of “Wheel of Fortune” airs at 7 p.m. May 30.


LYNN How much does it cost to buy a vowel on the “Wheel of Fortune”?

Lynn native James Magner can tell you after Tuesday when he appears as a contestant on the game show.

“I’ve been trying my whole life to get on ‘Wheel of Fortune,’” he said. “I’ve been watching it since the inception every night at 7 p.m.”

Magner’s drive to become a contestant on the show was never ending. Someone who thrived at doing puzzles growing up, the 1996 Classical High School graduate would play along at home, dreaming of the day he would spin the wheel with host Pat Sajak and hostess Vanna White.

After moving to Florida, he attended “Wheel Mobile” events, pop-up stations where people try their luck in a lottery to be selected for the show.

Unfortunately for Magner, at the last event he attended, his number wasn’t drawn so he and his wife went home empty handed.

And then he got the good news.

“I saw an email one day inviting me to a private audition for ‘Wheel of Fortune’ with about 50 other people,” he said. “At first, I thought it was just a joke.”

Marshalling a plan for former school building

The interviewer told participants they would receive a letter within two weeks if they were selected. Magner doubted he would be chosen and the fact it had been weeks without receiving a letter, he was sure it was just another bust.

And then the phone rang.

“I got a call from California one day saying the letter sent by ‘Wheel of Fortune’ came back return-to-sender and that I was actually selected to be a contestant on the show during Fabulous Florida Week,” he said.

While he can’t disclose specifics on his performance until the show airs, he says you don’t want to miss it.

Magner will be flying in from Florida so he can watch his “Wheel of Fortune” debut with family in Lynn.

His father, another James Magner, said they are really excited.

“We’re going to have a little get-together at my house,” he said. “(My son) will be bringing his newly married wife and newborn son.”

Magner’s episode of “Wheel of Fortune” will air at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Matt Demirs can be reached at