Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

County has spate of big winners in lottery scratch-off games

March 21, 2007

Lady luck may have found a temporary home in Leavenworth County.

Since January, at least three county resident have come forward to claim prizes of at least $5,000 through Kansas Lottery instant scratch tickets.

Paul Lawson, Leavenworth resident and head volleyball coach at the University of St. Mary, won $5,000 in mid-January after playing a $1 Quick Crossword scratch ticket.

Brenda Burns, Leavenworth, shared $5,555 last month playing the Wild 5's game. And Elizabeth Willis, a bus driver for the Lansing school district, pocketed a $20,000 prize in January on the Bonus Crossword game.

Lawson had gone to a convenience store to purchase soft drinks for his children and ended up getting some instant scratch tickets as well.

"I got a ticket, came home, scratched it; it looked funny and I thought it was a waste of money," Lawson said.

"I was just going to throw it away," he said.

Lawson's wife, however, decided to go back to the gas station to see if it was a winning ticket. When she came home and told him they had won, "I thought she was pulling my leg," he said.

Lawson used most of the money to pay his bills, but saved some to get his wife something nice.

Lawson wasn't the only Leavenworth resident to be touched by lady luck.

Burns, member of "The Scratcher's Club," won a cut of the $5,555 jackpot playing the Wild 5's scratch ticket game. Her winnings are being split among the members of the club who pool their money to buy tickets each week.

"I couldn't believe it," Burns told lottery officials. "We've been doing this for over a year and have never won anything this big. It took awhile for it to sink in. I looked at that ticket for probably 10 minutes."

By far the biggest winner was Willis, who won $20,000 playing a $2 Bonus Crossword scratch ticket.

She purchased her ticket in Bonner

Springs, where she had taken the Lansing Middle School boys basketball team for a midweek game. To pass the time waiting for the trip home, Willis went to a convenience store and purchased five of the tickets.

"Crossword tickets are my favorite game to play," Willis told the lottery. "I play the $1, $2, and $5 Crossword tickets all the time. The most I've ever won was $100 a couple of times. This is unbelievable. I was just passing time until the game was over. I couldn't even read the book I brought."

Although luck treated these residents well, Lawson, who occasionally buys scratch tickets after his win, said he still bought tickets with the mindset of "it's the luck of the draw."

-- Kim Lynch is a journalism student at the University of Kansas.

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