Offbeat: Atheist Converts After Mock Prayer to Win $1m Lottery is Answered

A lucky chance miracle?

A self-confessed atheist has become a believer after mocking God by sarcastically praying for his mother to win the lottery. However, his joke prayer was amazingly answered as the next day his mother won $1 million on the New York Lottery Sweet Million game.

Sal Bentivegna, 28, who did not previously believe in God, had sarcastically asked his mother to “ask your God for a million dollars”.

However, his mother Gloria Bentivegna, follows the Catholic faith, and staying true to her belief refused to ask God for such a thing.

Taking his joke further, Sal then prayed out aloud saying, “God, I don’t know if you’re real or not, but if you are there, please let my mother win a million dollars.”

He added, “If Jesus wants me to believe in him, that’s what he’ll do”.


The following day his mother bought a “Lotto Tree” of unscratched instant win tickets from [a] Church’s charity auction. Sal was then left absolutely stunned when he found out his mother had won a million.

Realizing that the odds of his mother winning were so farfetched, Sal has now become a firm believer.

He testified, “I can’t shrug off that Jesus had a hand in it.”

“No pun intended, but it was a Godsend,” he said.

Some perspective from mother:

Gloria Bentivegna, reflecting on what had happened, is thankful to God for her winnings, but even more thankful for her son’s conversion. She said: “’God performed two miracles, a true miracle.” [Christian Post]

I’m very happy for mother and son, and the story also provides some details I like – for instance, the mother refused to pray for a winning lotto ticket and seems to be happier about her son’s conversion than the money she won. Also, the son got exactly the amount he asked for – an interesting wrinkle.

That said, when God intervenes miraculously in people’s lives it’s normally not in the form of winning lotto tickets (think instead, deliverance from despair, pain, evil, death, etc).

So this story failed to make me into a lotto convert…



  • Tabitha Raised

    Years ago, I had a business partner who I had to pay $33,000 to to get her out of the company. It wasn’t something that was really owed to her, so I believe God in His providence took care of me, young a single women by paying me back.

    There was lottery at a Catholic high school for renovations and I decided it was worth the $150 ticket, as the odds were 1 in 200 to win the main money prize, which would have been a house if they sold enough tickets. It was my last $150. For some reason I believed I would win at least $6,000 as that is how much I owed in taxes.

    I felt a push as I drove looking for the high school to purchase the ticket on the last day that you could. At the dinner the following night, they pulled my ticket out and I won the top prize: $33,000! If people take advantage of you and you respond with innocence and goodness, God watches out for you.

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  • Ikedi

    Honestly, this conversion seems very superficial. It has brought him to merely acknowledge the existence of Jesus. What he needs is a conversion where he acknowledges the existence of sin, his own personal sinfulness, turns to repentance and by God’s grace chooses to stop sinning altogether. Only then will we know this “conversion” was legit.

    • Part-time pilgrim

      To be fair, you could say that about any of us.

    • dadd

      It’s a good start. We’ll leave the rest to Jesus as he saw fit to get the ball rolling in the right direction

    • Laura P

      I agree, lkedi, that what you have stated are the indicators of true conversion, and this young man needs to do these things for his conversion to be real. However, the other points made are true as well, that Jesus did get the ball rolling. He will give the young man the grace to continue with true conversion. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Phil 1:6 Let’s pray for this young man that he does indeed follow through.

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  • Richard A

    John, what could possibly motivate you to verbalize (literalize?) such an uncharitable expectation? Let’s be grateful for the evidence of God’s grace that we have and can recognize as such, and leave the working out of it to those responsible for it (ie, God and Mr. Bentivegna – and his mom). And pray for his perseverance in the faith, a grace we could all use.

  • John M

    Who wants to bet this “convert” doesn’t last in Catholicism as long as Anne Rice did?



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