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Orange County Focus

Countywide : Holding Ticket to Instant Retirement

March 12, 1993|STACY WONG

Lorenzo Cerezo often worried about paying the $710 monthly rent on the two-bedroom Placentia apartment he shares with his mother and sister, but now he talks about buying a house.

As the purchaser of one of three winning SuperLotto tickets, Cerezo will split a $62.2-million jackpot--the third-largest in California Lottery history, according to officials.

Sharing that jackpot will be Cameron MacDonald, a 56-year-old IBM computer executive from Fountain Valley who promptly retired Thursday morning after learning the night before that he and five co-workers had purchased a winning ticket.

At a press conference Thursday at the lottery office in Whittier, both MacDonald and Cerezo smiled broadly after arriving in limousines.

"I feel great," said the 27-year-old Cerezo. "First of all, I want to help my family in the Philippines."

Cerezo is an assistant manager of a Circle K store in Fullerton, where he purchased his winning ticket.

He had gotten copies of the winning lottery numbers to give to customers Wednesday night but didn't realize that he had all six matching numbers until a co-worker pointed it out to him.

"He said, 'You got six, man, you got six! I can't believe it!' " Cerezo said.

Cerezo's boss, store manager Ajay Jariwala, said Cerezo called him Wednesday night and was "jumping and crying."

Cerezo's share of the jackpot comes to more than $20.7 million. He will receive more than $1 million a year, before taxes, for the next 20 years. The store will receive $103,700 for selling a winning ticket.

Cerezo said he was so excited that a fellow store employee had to take him home, where he said he didn't get any sleep. Cerezo had come to California from the Philippines about two years ago to join his parents.

He has worked at the store for about two years, earning less than $16,000 a year, even though he has a bachelor's degree in accounting from a college in the Philippines.

Since Thursday was Cerezo's day off, he didn't go to work, but he said he was unsure about his career plans.

Not so MacDonald, who will receive $172,833 each year for the next 20 years as his share of a six-way split among co-workers.

A technical support group in IBM's Gardena office, the six co-workers have played the lottery together only a few times before.

They purchased the ticket in Corona, using Quick Pick to get their numbers, MacDonald said.

Each of the six has worked more than 19 years for IBM, and all six announced their retirements to the company on Thursday morning.

MacDonald also will receive an undisclosed amount as part of the retirement buyout program now offered by IBM, which is trying to reduce its work force.

MacDonald said he was playing poker at a friend's house when he got the call Wednesday night from his wife, who had found out from his co-worker about winning.

"She was just screaming; she couldn't believe it," he said. "I wanted to go home immediately, but I kept on playing. I bet more, and I won for a change. I was trying to donate to the pot."

MacDonald said he plans to travel after he retires and perhaps take a cruise. His wife, Pat, said lots of people were congratulating them.

"We have a lot of plans to travel," she said. "We love to go to different places."

As of Thursday afternoon, no one had come forward to claim the third winning ticket, which was bought in Vallejo in Northern California.

Top O.C. Lotto Winners

Lorenzo Cerezo of Placentia joins the ranks of Orange County residents who have won the largest lottery prizes. His prize: $20.7 million.

Name Residence Amount Date Carlos Olvera Westminster $25,140,000 12/16/87 Ronald Smith Westminster 20,660,000 10/29/88 Rita Ussery Tustin 19,620,000 1/23/91 Christene Lentz Capistrano Beach 19,580,000 8/24/88 Joan Young Laguna Niguel 17,140,000 2/21/90 Ricardo Velazquez Mission Viejo 16,400,000 9/12/90 Zafer Altintas Laguna Hills 14,800,000 11/23/88 Thin Nguyen Pham Garden Grove 14,500,000 1/18/92 Josef Strauss Anaheim Hills 11,880,000 4/17/91 Amador Granados Anaheim 11,220,000 3/4/89

Source: California Lottery

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