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New reality for Missouri Powerball winners: Merry, surreal Christmas

November 30, 2012|By Michael Muskal

For some people, 'tis the season to receive -- big time and in more ways than one. A Missouri mechanic, his wife and children were given a ceremonial check for almost $294 million on Friday, their share of the record Powerball lottery.

“I think we’re going to have a pretty good Christmas,” Cindy Hill of Dearborn, Mo., said at a televised news conference where she, her husband, Mark, their three sons and daughter gathered around the outsized paper check representing their winnings.

The family holds one of two winning tickets in the Powerball drawing from earlier this week. The other winning ticket, purchased in suburban Phoenix, has yet to be redeemed.

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Powerball

The jackpot was $587.5 million, a Powerball record and the second-largest payout in U.S. history. The cash payout from the overall jackpot has been estimated at about $385 million, or about $192.5 million for each ticket. Winners can take their jackpots in lump sums or annual payments.

Rather than taking their winnings over time, Cindy Hill said the family would likely take the immediate lump sum option. Cindy is a former office manager laid off in June 2010. Mark, 52, is a mechanic at the Hillshire Brands meat processing plant in St. Joseph, according to state officials.

“We’re still stunned by what’s happened,” Cindy said at the news conference held in the North Platte High School in Dearborn, a town of about 500 about 40 miles north of Kansas City.

“It’s surreal. People ask what we'll buy and I haven’t even thought about it. I just want to go home and be normal,” she said.

The couple adopted a daughter from China five years ago and are now considering a second adoption. Cindy also said the family has set up college accounts for children and grandchildren as a first step.

She described hearing the winning numbers and beginning to shake. “I thought I was having a heart attack,” she said.

Her husband, Mark, told of how he went into a store to buy supplies like toothpaste after realizing that he had won.

“I found myself in the store still looking at the prices and stuff,” he said.

The winning ticket was one of five Cindy said she purchased with $10 her husband gave her. The numbers were chosen at random – Quick Picks -- when the tickets were bought at a Trex Mart gas station and convenience store in Dearborn.

At its peak this week, lottery tickets were being sold at the rate of 130,000 a minute, fueling the rising jackpot. The contest also rolled over 16 times without a winner, propelling the final jackpot upward.

The record jackpot is $656 million in a Mega Millions drawing in March. Three tickets shared that haul.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

@latimesmuskal

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