Shirley and Rolf Walker of Pacific, Mo., have bridged many differences in their 48 years of marriage, including disagreeing about how many lottery scratch-offs a responsible person should buy in any one week.
"If you left it up to me, I wouldn't buy a single one," said Shirley. "We don't have the money to spend."
But marriage is about compromise, so the Walkers decided some years ago that if Rolf Walker just purchased a couple of scratch-offs a week, that would be OK. And if, when he won, he'd put at least half his winnings in his pocket instead of buying more chances, well, that would be even better.
So on Feb. 19, Rolf Walker, 70, a retired machinist, bought two scratch-offs at Bud's Market and Gas on Old Route 66 in Pacific. He got two winners, for $5 and $15. According to the rules of the marital agreement, he had two potential ways to handle his winnings:
He could cash in the tickets and not buy anymore because he'd already purchased a couple that week, which Shirley regarded as more than enough.
He could cash in the tickets, put half the money in his pocket and spend half of it on more scratch-offs, another acceptable alternative.
Shirley, 67, sent Rolf to the Wal-Mart for groceries. She has rheumatoid arthritis, must get dialysis three times a week and needs to stay off her feet as much as possible. On the way back, Rolf stopped at the MotoMart to cash in his chips.
He decided to abide by marital Rule 2 and spend half of his $20 winnings on tickets.
"So I told the young lady behind the counter, `Give me two of those,' and I gestured at the $5 tickets in the rolls up above the counter," Rolf recalled.
The clerk, Sarah Provance, reached up, grabbed two $5 tickets and, in a continuing movement, accidentally detached a $10 game card as well. She apologized and offered to put the $10 card back.
But then he recalled Rule 3 a rule he'd made with himself that superseded other rules: "If a ticket I didn't ask for gets torn off, I never have them put it back because it might be a winner," he explained.
That ticket, called Lucky Gold, paid him $300,000.
Lottery officials confirmed the win, and the Walkers bought a new Chrysler Sebring to replace their '97 Plymouth.
Said Shirley, "I got in it the first time, and I said, `Seems to me there's a crack in the roof,' but he said, `Nah, that's the sun roof.'"
Moral: Always allow some wiggle room when making marital rules.