Friday, November 30, 2012

Powerball winners introduced to the nation: ‘We’re still stunned by what happened’

NBC News
The Hill family of Dearborn, Mo., is introduced at a press conference in Missouri after winning their millions.

By Elizabeth Chuck, NBC NewsA six-year-old girl from Dearborn, Mo., may get the pony she has dreamed of having, thanks to the record Powerball jackpot that her family just won.

The Hill family of Dearborn, Mo., who won half of the record Powerball jackpot worth $587.5 million, appeared at a press conference on Friday, with six-year-old Jayden clutching a stuffed horse as her parents were handed an oversized check made out for their half of the pot: $293,750,000.
"We’re still stunned by what’s happened. It's surreal and people keep asking us, 'What are you going to buy with it?' I just want to go home and be back to normal," Cindy Hill, 51, said at the press conference in which she, her husband Mark, and their three adult sons and adopted daughter were introduced to the nation. 

After hearing on Thursday morning that one of the winning tickets was sold in Missouri -- the other was sold in Arizona -- Cindy dropped her daughter Jayden off at school, went to a convenience store for a winning numbers report, and checked her tickets in her car.

Upon seeing that one of the five tickets she bought had the winning combination, Cindy said she headed straight to her mother-in-law's house and asked her to double-check the ticket. Husband Mark, 52, joined her there to see for himself.

"You know it's the Show Me State, so he said, 'Show me,'" Cindy said, according to a Missouri Lottery press release.

With the odds of any single ticket winning the jackpot at 1 in 175 million, the Hills said they hardly gave a thought to winning.

"I was just telling my daughter the night before, 'Honey, that probably never happens (people winning),'" Cindy said.

The Hills said they have just begun dreaming of how to spend their $293.7 million share of the pot. Cindy was an office manager until she was laid off in 2010; Mark works as a mechanic for Hillshire Brands, according to the Missouri Lottery.

The couple has three adult sons and a 6-year-old Jayden, who they adopted from China, a friend of theirs, David Troutman, said on TODAY before the couple’s identity was confirmed by lottery officials.

Since winning, they have considered adopting again, the lottery press release said. Mark has spoken of getting a red Camaro; they also would like to take their 6-year-old to the beach, since she's never been to one.

Their daughter also wants a horse, according to Cindy, so "in a couple of years, I'd say yes."

They are looking forward to not working and traveling together as a family using their winnings, she added.

Troutman, a former high school classmate of the winning couple, said they first posted the news on Facebook.

"I was on Facebook and I saw that his wife had posted, ‘Thank you God, we won the lottery.’ Of course everybody in town, all his friends, gave all thumbs up. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy,’’ Troutman said.

The Hills are high school sweethearts, he said. In the tiny town of Dearborn -- population, 496 -- their identity didn't stay secret for long.

“Word spread that he won so fast,’’ Troutman said. “I heard that it was a winner from Dearborn, and by the time I walked in the door my mom was on the phone, and she said, ‘He won. It was him.’ Who knows what the impact will be on Dearborn.’’

Dearborn is about 35 miles north of Kansas City, the home of the Royals baseball team.

No one has come forward yet to claim the winning ticket in Arizona, but on Thursday, a mystery man showed up at a gas station in Upper Marlboro, Md., claiming to hold the big winner.

Surveillance video showed a man in a yellow construction suit slowly amble up to the counter, where he pulled out some lottery tickets. After confirming that the numbers on one of the tickets matched, he can be seen in the video repeatedly pumping his fists. It’s unclear what the man was doing in Maryland with a ticket ostensibly from Arizona.

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NBC's Kerry Sanders reports from Dearborn, Mo., where the town is celebrating one family's luck of winning half the record Powerball jackpot. A family friend of the couple, expected to be named by lottery officials Friday, tells TODAY's Savannah Guthrie "it couldn't have happened to a better guy."

Mystery man claims winning Powerball ticket ... in Maryland?

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A man at a gas station in Maryland was caught on camera reacting with excitement to a scan of his Powerball ticket, purchased in Arizona. NBC's Tom Costello speaks to the store clerk who checked the man's numbers, and claims he's the mystery co-winner of the $580 million jackpot.

By Jason White, NBC News

Officials say the winning tickets for the largest Powerball jackpot ever -- $587 million -- were sold in Missouri and Arizona. But on Thursday, a mystery man showed up at a gas station in Upper Marlboro, Md., claiming to hold one of the big winners.
Surveillance video showed the man -- burly, bald, African-American and clad in a yellow construction suit -- slowly amble up to the counter, where he pulled out some lottery tickets. 

He showed them to the clerk and then repeatedly pumped his arms in excitement after reportedly seeing the numbers match.

According to Kamran Afgan, a cashier on duty at the time, the man said something along the lines of, "Oh my God," after his numbers matched, and gave Afgan the ticket to hold and examine.

Afgan said the man told him he was from Maryland and a member of the military. It's unclear if he's based in Arizona, but his ticket was an Arizona ticket, Afgan told NBC News. Afgan said he didn't get a chance to scan the ticket into the lottery machine because the man took it back so quickly.

The entire store was in shock, Afgan said.

Before leaving, the man showed his tickets to two other people in the store who confirmed he had the winner. At that point, the man walked out. But a moment later, he returned, saying he forget to buy gas.

One can understand how he might have been a little distracted.

No winner has come forward yet in Arizona, which means it is possible this Maryland mystery man holds a ticket worth $293.7 million in his hands.

On Friday, Missouri lottery officials announced that a husband and wife from Dearborn, Mo., were the lucky ticket holders in that state, and they couldn't be more shocked at their good fortune.

"I called my husband and told him, 'I think I am having a heart attack,'" Cindy Hill, 51, said, according to a Missouri Lottery press release. "I think we just won the lottery!"

She added, "You know it's the Show Me State, so he said, 'Show me.'"

NBC News' Cydney Weiner contributed to this report.

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