$4 million lottery prize will keep local ice cream shop open


Reporter - Kendall Downing

DU QUOIN, Ill. - A local man is $4 million richer. His new-found wealth will allow him to retire for good and keep a family-operated ice cream shop in the heart of town.

His family believes the money is an answer to prayer.

It appeared to be a normal day at the Du Quoin Farm Fresh store, except for Bob Bytner and one big lottery check.

"I scratched it off, and the first thing I thought was I looked at that number wrong. And I put my classes on, so I could see it. First thing I thought was, I'll be damned. I'm a multimillionaire," said Bytner.

The occasional player won $4 million off a $20 Gold Bullion scratch-off ticket.

But the story of Bytner's win doesn't stop at the Farm Fresh store. It continues a few blocks down, to the ice cream shop Bytner and his late wife Gayle opened five and a half years ago.

"On my mom's death bed, we promised not to let that shop close. And now God's given us that means," said Bobbi Smith, Bytner's daughter.

Smith said times have been hard for the little shop. Her dad worked midnights, and she ran the store as a legacy to her mom who died of ovarian cancer.

"The simple prayer we've been praying is that he could retire," said Smith.

Now thanks to that lucky ticket, Bytner will be serving ice cream full-time, and the shop will stay open along with a $4 million check.

"The store will never close. It will be open for the little kids like she wanted," said Bytner.

This is not Bob Bytner's first lottery prize. He won $100,000 five years ago and used it all for medical bills. He will receive $200,000 for the next 20 years, before taxes.

He said he will help his community and of course, continue to play the lottery.