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December 1, 2012

Missouri couple collects on record Powerball prize

DEARBORN, Mo. — Cindy Hill, a laid-off office manager who lives in a small town in Missouri, called her husband Thursday with urgent news that would change everything: “We won the lottery.”

“What?” he asked.

“We won the lottery,” she repeated. But Mark Hill, a 52-year-old mechanic who works at a meat-processing plant, is the kind of person who carefully checks the prices for everything he buys, and he needed proof. This is the “Show-Me State” after all.

He drove to his mother’s house, where his wife was waiting with their quick-pick ticket, and confirmed for himself that the numbers matched those drawn for a record $588 million Powerball jackpot that they’ll share with an unknown winner who bought a ticket in Arizona.

Missouri lottery officials officially introduced the Hills as winners yesterday in front of reporters and townspeople gathered at the high school in Dearborn, which is about 40 miles north of Kansas City. The announcement was not a surprise. The Hills’ name began circulating Thursday, soon after lottery officials said a winning ticket had been sold at a Trex Mart gas station and convenience store on the edge of town.

The Hills chose to take their winnings in a lump sum, not annual payments. Lottery officials estimated the cash payment at about $385 million, or about $192.5 million for each ticket.

The oversized novelty check handed to the Hills yesterday was written in the amount of $293,750,000, but Missouri Lottery spokeswoman Susan Goedde said that after taxes, they will receive about $136.5 million.

“We’re still stunned by what’s happened,” said Cindy Hill, 51, who was laid off in June 2010. “It’s surreal.”

The couple have three grown sons and a 6-year-old daughter they adopted from China five years ago. They said they are now considering a second adoption with their winnings, and they plan to help other relatives, including their grandchildren and nieces and nephews, pay for college. They’re planning vacations, and their daughter, Jaiden, wants a pony. Mark Hill has his eye on a red Camaro.

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