The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 3, 2011

Milton family wins big in state lottery scratch-off game

MILTON — Thomas Powell Sr. set the black briefcase on the table and slid the locks back.

Carefully, he produced a bright red instant lottery scratch-off ticket.

When he bought it at 8:42 p.m. Thursday, the unemployed wleder from Milton knew it was a winner as soon as he scratched the lower right corner and saw symbols indicating it could be claimed.

Then Powell, 44,  scratched off the upper left corner and saw the magical word “life.”

But, speaking Monday, Powell, 44, and his wife, Pamala, 47, prepared to take the ticket to Harrisburg on Monday, he recounted scratching the upper left corner and seeing the word “life.”

“I knew it would change my life,” he said, Monday as Pwell and his wife Pamala 47, prepared to take the ticket to Harrisburg to claim the prize — $250,000 a year until he dies, with $5 million guaranteed.

He bought the “$250,000 A Year For Life” ticket at the Turkey Hill Minit Market on Mahoning Street in Milton and scratched it off there.

Once he’d realized he won, he called his wife, but he was incomprehensible, who said she thought a child had gotten hold of her husband’s phone.

It wasn’t until he arrived home and showed her the ticket that she grasped what had happened.

“I didn’t quite believe him,” she said, noting her husband had played tricks on her in the past.

The couple and children Travis, 25, Thomas Jr., 21, and TaLee, 16, were not officially winners until the ticket is validated at the lottery headquarters in Middletown.

Kirstin Alvanitakis, deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania Lottery, said she could not comment on Powell’s winning until the ticket is validated.

But she said the game’s rules state the winner would receive the money annually through a third-party insurance company, minus 25 percent taken out for federal taxes.

The game is part of a family of similar games, with payouts including $10,000 a month for life and $50 a day for life.

“These games are very popular,” Alvanitakis said. “People enjoy knowing they’re going to receive a set amount for the rest of their life.”

Powell, who has been out of work since 2008, said it would probably take about four or six weeks before the paperwork was processed, but the couple already spent the first $250,000.

They took care of their kids’ debt, plus bought each new vehicles. For TaLee, who just got her license, it’s her first car.

Plus, the couple set up a trust fund for three foster children over whom they have guardianship, siblings from Hazleton ages 12, 11 and 9.

And for fun, Pamala will pony up $10,000 to participate in the World Series of Poker’s Texas Hold ‘Em tournament in Las Vegas. Travis won his way in last year, the couple said.

Meanwhile, Pamala will continue with her job as a certified nursing assistant caring for two elderly people.

Thomas said he was hired for a new job starting Jan. 11 shortly before winning. He said he’ll work at least a year at the job, hopefully being moved up.

“If I’m promoted to a supervisory position, I’ll keep going,” he said.

And he’ll keep playing the lottery, too. Powell said he spends about $200 a week playing a variety of games “for the fun of it.”

Since winning the big prize Thursday, he already has won two $100 prizes as well.

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