St. Louis man plays same numbers for 23 years, wins $70 million
ST. LOUIS - The Missouri Lottery said Wednesday a St. Louis man won $70 million after two decades of playing the same Powerball numbers.
62-year-old Tom Rea said he has been playing the combination of family birthdays for 23 years. Rea and his wife Cathy claimed their prize in Jefferson City Friday.
Rea matched all five white-ball numbers and the powerball in the July 4 drawing to win the jackpot prize.
Rea said he discovered the win when he returned to the St. Louis gas station where he purchased the ticket to see if he won anything.
"I put it in there, and it said, ‘You won $70 million,'" Rea said. "So, I wiped the ticket under my arm and tried it again. It said the same thing, so I asked the girl who was working there to check it for me. I told her I wanted to make sure my eyes weren't seeing things."
Rea said the manager and store clerk celebrated the win with him. "The manager came out and hugged me and shook my hand, and the girl was crying because she'd never sold such a big ticket," Rea said.
Rea said the ticket allows him to retire early. His win is the 31st time a Powerball jackpot has been won in Missouri. Rea's $70 million payout ranked as the state's ninth-largest jackpot win.