On Sept. 13, Gregory Jarvis played a Club Keno add-on game called "The Jack" while at the Blue Water Inn in Caseville, Michigan, WJRT-TV reported.
And the 57-year-old hit the $45,000 jackpot, the station said.
Blue Water Inn owner Dawn Talaski recalled to WJRT that somebody in the establishment exclaimed that "someone just won The Jack."
Jarvis replied, "Great," she told the station.
Then someone asked Jarvis if he was the big winner, and sure enough, he was, according to Talaski.
"He was super excited," she told the station, adding that Jarvis "was here every day" and a "very nice guy."
No social security card, no winnings
Six days later — the night of Sept. 19 — Jarvis was back at the Blue Water and buying rounds of drinks, WJRT said, adding that he still had not cashed the $45,000 ticket.
"He couldn't cash it because he didn't have a Social Security card at all," Talaski told the station. "It wasn't any good, so he applied for a new one."
She added to WJRT that once the money was in Jarvis' hands, he was planning to "go see his sister and his dad in North Carolina."
But when Jarvis exited the Blue Water that night, it was believed to have been the last time anyone saw him, WJRT reported.
Talaski told the station she figured something was off when he didn't come into the bar the following day — and several days after: "Sometimes he's up north working; he wasn't here all week, and we thought, 'Something is wrong.'"
Last Wednesday, Jarvis' boss came into the Blue Water Inn and said Jarvis hadn't shown up for work, WJRT reported.
Then on Friday morning a resident along a Saginaw Bay private beach in Caseville called police saying a body had washed ashore near a boat — and it was Jarvis' boat, the station said.
"We are thinking that he was tying up his boat, slipped and fell, hit his head, and that's where he ended up in the water, no foul play suspected," Caseville Police Chief Kyle Romzek told WJRT.
And Jarvis' winning lottery ticket was still in his wallet, the station said.
Romzek told WJRT his department conducted further investigations after learning about the winning the lottery ticket.
But the chief noted to the station that after interviewing people at the bar, authorities learned "he was well-liked around here" and "he was nice guy." Plus, the autopsy showed Jarvis had injuries consistent with hitting his head on the boat, and he drowned.
Other concerns were then "off the table," Romzek told WJRT.
The Michigan Lottery Commission confirmed to the station that winners of prizes of more than $600 have to provide photo identification and their Social Security cards — the actual cards — to collect their money, the station said.
Jarvis' relatives now have the winning ticket, WJRT said.