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They Win $25.7 Million Each : 2 Ordinary Guys to Split Record Lottery Jackpot

June 07, 1988|MARK GLADSTONE | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Two Northern California men who will split $51.4 million--the largest lottery jackpot in North American history--said on Monday they plan to quit their jobs and then decide how to spend their fortunes.

Shelby Carroll, 53, a civilian aircraft mechanic at Travis Air Force Base, who last Friday purchased $100 worth of Lotto 6/49 tickets at a liquor store near the base, and Randy Pennington, 26, whose winning ticket was among 10 he bought at the suburban Sacramento supermarket where he bags groceries, will receive $25.7 million each, minus federal income tax, to be distributed in annual payments over the next 20 years.

Both turned in their winning tickets Monday and then attended a press conference decorated with signs and balloons and crowded with lottery employees who cheered Carroll, his wife and Pennington like sports champions.

The winners described themselves as ordinary guys unaccustomed to the limelight. They conceded they were nervous and excited but nonetheless certain about two things--immediately quitting their jobs and showering some of their new-found wealth on their families.

"All my family benefits," beamed bachelor Pennington, a regular lottery player. "It's the first time I've ever won anything."

Lottery officials said that in about a week the winners will each be handed their first checks. They estimate that after-tax winnings will be slightly more than $1 million a year.

Bob Taylor, a lottery spokesman, said that until now the largest jackpot in a state-sponsored contest was the $46 million split between two players Oct. 14, 1987, in Pennsylvania's Super 7 lottery.

The highest previous California jackpot was $25.4 million split last October between a Long Beach longshoreman and a retiree from Carmichael--where Pennington also makes his home.

Carroll told reporters that he returned from vacation last Friday with an extra $100 and used the money to buy tickets at Travis Liquors in Fairfield, 43 miles west of Sacramento. The liquor store and the Carmichael market where Pennington purchased his tickets will receive $125,000 each for having sold the winning tickets.

A regular lottery player, Carroll said it was the first time he had purchased tickets at the store and the first time he had used the so-called "quick pick" system, in which a computer selects the entry numbers. Lotto players may choose their own numbers or play numbers picked at random by the computer.

Carroll said the most he had ever won previously was $5.

After making his quick picks last Friday, Carroll offered his supervisor and several other co-workers a chance to share in the $100 worth of tickets. The supervisor, Eugene Pancoast, said he turned down Carroll because he has "never played a Lotto ticket." But, he said, "hindsight says I should have bought one."

Watched the Drawing

Carroll and his wife, Ila, a Solano County Muncipal Court employee, were watching television Saturday night when they heard the winning numbers announced. "We looked at each other in disbelief," Carroll recalled.

The couple, married 31 years, have two grown children and live in the small community of Allendale near Vacaville, between Fairfield and Sacramento.

Carroll said that assisting his family would be his first priority with the prize money. Otherwise, he said, he just might go back on vacation. "We were thinking about retiring and we were just about at that point," he added.

Co-winner Pennington also said he plans to leave his job at the supermarket. "I don't work there any longer," he cracked.

Was Home Alone

The North Carolina native said on Saturday night he was home alone watching the Oakland Athletics baseball game on television. He switched stations to hear the winning numbers. "I just dropped everything," said Pennington, who lives with his parents and twin sister. He has two brothers and three sisters.

Pennington, who had been a clerk at the market for about a year, said the prize money will enable him to spend more time on his hobby of collecting and repairing antique toys, especially toy vehicles.

Pennington almost missed out on his financial windfall Saturday. He said the line to buy tickets was too long and he didn't want to wait. But he changed his mind. Afterward, walking to his car, Pennington said he found a penny. "Every time I find a heads-up penny, something good always happens to me."

The odds of picking all six numbers out of 49 are about one in 14 million, lottery officials said. The winning numbers were 48, 42, 9, 14, 19, 31.

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