ORLANDO, Fla. — The owner of a Central Florida wildlife sanctuary that got ravaged by fire two years ago has won big in a Florida Lottery scratch-off game, Growing Bolder magazine reports.

What You Need To Know

Jim Bronzo, 62, of Orlando, recently claimed a $1 million prize from the $5,000,000 LUCK Scratch-Off game, reports Growing Bolder, a quarterly publication that says it aims to write stories of “ordinary people living extraordinary lives.”

Bronzo owns Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary, which lost dozens of animals in February 2019 when a fire tore through his property at 805 Baron Road. 

The Florida Lottery announced in early February that James Bronzo, 62, of Orlando, had won a $1 million scratch-off game.

That prompted Spectrum News 13 to try that week to contact Bronzo at the Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary. Asked if he would discuss his lottery winnings, a man who answered the phone and identified himself as Jim said he wouldn’t comment and hung up.

In a news release, the Florida Lottery said Bronzo chose to receive his winnings as a lump-sum payment of $760,000. Growing Bolder reports that he has invested the money.

The magazine also reports that Bronzo got COVID-19 in January and spent five days in a hospital.

“I thought I was going to die,” it quotes him as saying. “I couldn’t breathe.”

Of the 2019 fire, Orange County Fire Rescue said 41 missing or killed animals included six baby raccoons, four giant tortoises, four ducks, four cats, three dogs, three snakes, two parrots, and a dozen other birds, according to a report from Spectrum News 13.

Fire Rescue officials said noise from at least one shrieking peacock woke up Bronzo, who one wildlife-group representative said had “dedicated his life to these animals.”

To help rebuild, the sanctuary sought donations, and Bronzo said he found himself overwhelmed by an outpouring of support from people who donated “tons of stuff, hay, food, trailers full of food, water, supplies,” according to a report from the day after the fire.

One woman said she drove from Ocala to help Bronzo, who she said previously had helped her.

Fire officials said after the fire they hadn’t determined the cause but had found nothing suspicious. A spokesman for the State Fire Marshal told Spectrum News 13 early this month that investigators closed the case and deemed it “undetermined.”

Reports in 2019 said Bronzo had been involved in a public dispute with a neighbor over the sanctuary and the smell.

The sanctuary’s Facebook page says the organization cares for 150 to 200 animals “at any given time.” Its most recent post, a video about boa constrictors, came in August 2019.

Bronzo purchased his $20 ticket at a 7-Eleven at 3000 West Colonial Drive in Orlando, which gets a $2,000 bonus commission, the Florida Lottery says.