Missouri – Patience is a virtue. At least that's the case for a St. Louis man, who after two decades of playing the same Powerball numbers - a combination of family birthdays - is now reveling in a big jackpot win. The special numbers picked by Tom Rea, 62, matched all five white-ball numbers, as well as the Powerball, in the July 4 drawing to win the $70 million jackpot prize. He and his wife, Cathy, claimed the prize at Lottery headquarters in Jefferson City on July 24.
"I've been playing those numbers every Wednesday and every Saturday for 23 years," Rea shared.
Describing what it was like to learn he'd just won a Powerball jackpot, he said it all happened when he returned to the gas station where he'd purchased the ticket - Gas Mart, 6901 Hampton Ave., in St. Louis. He just wanted to scan the ticket to see if he'd won anything, but within the span of a few minutes, the routine errand turned into a milestone moment.
"I put it in there, and it said, 'You won $70 million,'" he 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."
The store clerk verified that he did indeed have the winning ticket.
"She said, 'Oh, my God, mister. You won!'" he shared. "Then 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."
From there, it was a matter of filling his wife in on the good news and, ultimately, securing legal and financial advice before traveling to Jefferson City to claim their prize.
So what's the best part about winning a Powerball jackpot?
"It allows for early retirement," Rea said.
"Relief. It opens up all new avenues," Cathy added.
When asked if he would continue to play his lucky numbers, Rea had no trouble coming up with an answer. "I haven't stopped yet!" he laughed.