LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For Joe Pierce and his wife, Amanda, the last few days have been momentous.
On Wednesday, she gave birth to their second child, a daughter, Kinley Jo.
On Sunday, he paid $5 for an Arkansas lottery ticket and won $100,000, the biggest prize anybody has won so far in the two-week-old lottery. That's also the biggest prize available in the lottery's current games.
Today, Joe plans to drive to the lottery's claims center in Little Rock to pick up his check, which will be for $75,000 after the usual deduction for taxes.
Pierce, 34, born, raised and educated in Van Buren, where he lives, bought the ticket at the Pointer Express 2 convenience store at 3915 Kibler Road in Van Buren. That's where he's worked the last month and a half. Coworker Tesha Hickey of Van Buren sold it to Pierce while he was on a break from his 2 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday shift, he said.
Actually, he bought two. The first $5 ticket was a $5 winner. He spent that $5 on the second ticket, which turned out to be the $100,000 winner.
Until Sunday, he'd bought tickets only at the $1 and $2 rates, winning "10, $20, $40 here and there."
"[But] nothing like this," Pierce said.
Winning with a ticket bought where he works "was kind of crazy," he said. "You wouldn't expect it.
"I couldn't believe I won that much. It was just hard to believe."
Amanda didn't believe when he told her what he'd won.
"I had to show her the actual ticket," Pierce said. "And she was in shock once she saw it and realized it was real."
The odds of winning a $100,000 prize are one in 880,000, according to the lottery commission. There are three $100,000 prizes for the $5 ticket for this game, said Ernie Passailaigue, executive director of the commission.Plus, there is a $100,000 top prize for players who register their nonwinning tickets with the lottery, he said.
Until Pierce won the $100,000, the biggest prize won in the lottery had been $25,000.
Pierce didn't drive to the claims center Monday because he figured it would be closed on Columbus Day.
"But by the time I figured out it was open it was too late. I had to come to work [Monday at 2 p.m.]," Pierce said.
He and Amanda didn't do much celebrating Sunday night after they knew he had won. The reason: They just had a baby, a sister of their older child, 13-year-old Lorin.
Pierce said he worked for several months at the front desk of the Sleep Inn hotel.
What'll he do with the money?
"I am going to try to put something down on a house, buy a car and just spend it on my kids," he said.
Any investments in mind?
"I just won last night," he said Monday. "I haven't had much time to think about investments."
Pierce's boss at the store was happy for him.
"Oh, my God, it's awesome," Lea Jane Clotfelter. "It couldn't happen to a better person."
It is standard practice for the lottery to deduct 25 percent of big prizes for taxes. It also makes deductions, where warranted, for unpaid child support, overdue state tax, and other things, said Julie Baldridge, director of public affairs and legislative relations for the lottery.
The lottery has been selling four types of scratch-off tickets. During its first two weeks, it has sold $19.3 million in tickets and handed out $12.5 million in prizes, Baldridge said.
Four more types of scratch-offs go on sale Oct. 20. Powerball ticket sales start Oct. 31.
Lottery officials have said that later this week they intend to pay back whatever the lottery owes at that point from a $6 million loan it received from the state to help get the lottery started.
The Hope for Arkansas Committee, a nonprofit corporation formed in January to promote the lottery, said Monday that with ticket sales expected to exceed $20 million through Monday the lottery has produced more than $5 million for college scholarships.
The $5 million estimate was based on the commission's preliminary budget proposal, which counts 25.6 cents of every $1 in lottery sales as net proceeds, which will pay for college scholarships for Arkansans admitted to two and four-year public and private colleges in the state.
"Remember, the higher the sales, the bigger the scholarships," the committee said.
The Legislature will set the scholarship amounts during the legislative session that begins Feb. 8. The lottery law projects the scholarship amounts will range from $1,250 to $3,000 at two-year colleges and from $2,500 to $6,000 at the four-year colleges, depending on the size of the net proceeds.
Last November, nearly 63 percent of voters voted for Amendment 87, which authorized the General Assembly to create state lotteries.
Passailaigue has estimated the lottery would raise $102.3 million for scholarships based on $400 million in ticket sales during the lottery's first year of operation.
(Click to display in gallery)