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Iowa firefighter claims $1 million Powerball prize during total eclipse

CLIVE, Iowa — Iowa’s newest Powerball® millionaire claimed his prize Monday as the total eclipse of the sun was reaching its zenith in the Midwest. He admitted that the timing of it all was something to be remembered.

“That’s not lost on me!” Trent Baker of Newton said with a laugh. “I was making the joke that man, there’s a lot going on this weekend: an earthquake in New York, a total eclipse, I won the lottery. What else is going to happen next? Maybe we shouldn’t ask that question.”

Baker, 37, a firefighter, claimed a $1 million Powerball prize on Monday at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive that he’d won in Saturday’s drawing.

While Saturday’s $1.326 billion Powerball jackpot was won in Oregon, Baker’s ticket was one of seven across the country that were just one number away from having a share of the giant prize. Those $1 million-winning tickets each matched the first five numbers but missed the Powerball to win at the game’s second prize level.

Baker said he was up early for work on Sunday morning when he decided to use the Iowa Lottery app on his mobile phone to check the results of the five Powerball tickets he’d bought the night before. His phone dinged on the second ticket he checked, indicating that it was a winner.

“I saw a 1 and a bunch of zeroes and I wasn’t quite sure what it was right away, if it was a million, if it was a billion,” Baker said. “At that moment, it was panic mode.”

Baker said he called his mother to share the news, but had trouble getting her to believe him.

“I called my mom and was like, ‘I just won the lottery!’” he said. “And she was like, ‘No you didn’t.’ And I could tell she didn’t believe me. And I was like, ‘I wouldn’t call you at 6:45 in the morning if I didn’t win the lottery!’”

Baker said he couldn’t report for a shift at the fire station without having another verification of his win, so he took his ticket to a local convenience store and had it checked on the lottery terminal there. The clerk at the store confirmed it was a $1 million winner.

Baker said he made it to work on time and shared the news with his co-workers at the fire station. But after working for a few hours and worrying that his scattered thoughts could cause him to make a critical error, he took the rest of his shift off, using the time to research his next steps.

By the time he claimed his prize Monday afternoon, he’d already spoken with a financial planner, identified the total he needed to pay off his student loans, and made plans to invest the bulk of his winnings.

“I’m 17 years away from retirement. This could help impact my retirement even more,” he said. “I don’t want to squander it and have to try to work harder for it all over again. That was kind of my motivation behind it: This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, let’s make it last as much as possible.”

Baker bought his $1 million-winning ticket at Hy-Vee, 1501 First Ave. E. in Newton. Hy-Vee will receive a $1,000 bonus from the Iowa Lottery for selling Baker his $1 million-winning ticket, an easy-pick play.

Saturday’s winning Powerball numbers were: 22-27-44-52-69 and Powerball 9. The Power Play® number was 3. Saturday’s jackpot was the fourth-largest Powerball prize and the eighth-largest U.S. lottery prize.

The game’s jackpot returned to $20 million annuity, $9.4 million lump-sum option, for Powerball’s Monday drawing.

While Baker has made long-term plans for his winnings, he also knows he has an immediate purchase in his future in keeping with a tradition at his fire station.

“It’s kind of an unwritten rule that if you get caught in the media, if you get pictures or video in the media and you’re easily identifiable, that you owe the department ice cream,” he said. “And, I owe a lot of ice cream.”

About the Iowa Lottery: Since the lottery's start in 1985, its players have won more than $5.7 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $2.4 billion for state programs.

Today, lottery proceeds help our state in multiple ways. They support Iowa veterans and their families through the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund. They help with ongoing insurance costs for the families of Iowa peace officers, firefighters and corrections employees who die in the line of duty. And they provide help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund.