America is beautiful to Eugen and Stanislawa Markiewicz, a Polish couple with German citizenship who immigrated to the U.S. five years ago.
The couple, along with her brother and sister-in-law, became Colorado's first Powerball jackpot winners Oct. 10 when their personal combination of numbers hit the $20 million jackpot.
They've used the same numbers for every ticket, every week, for five years, based on family birthdates.
The Markiewiczes, both 59 and residents of the foothills north of Golden, appeared Wednesday afternoon at the Colorado Lottery offices in Denver to claim their prize. The shy, reserved couple, who chose to speak through a translator, appeared without their in-laws, who didn't want to be named.
"She had to get the newspaper out of the trash when she thought she heard her numbers called," said the translator, Patricia Gumieniak. When Stanislawa verified the winning numbers, "she was speechless," Gumieniak said. "She waited for her husband to come home from work, then told him to sit down.
"She told him they had won the lottery."
The working-class couple — he's an electrician, and she's a cook — took nearly two weeks to come forward. They had set up a partnership with their in-laws to share the winnings.
The couple believe their luck is just beginning. They haven't stopped playing Powerball and recently cashed in $28 more.
Speaking through an interpreter, the couple said, "They are thinking of traveling to see family back in Europe and maybe a house down the road." Right now, they are renters.
Eugen says he'd also like to buy a new cell phone. He pulled his current phone out of his pocket and showed it to the media.
Opting not to receive a pre-tax lump payment of $9.4 million, they will receive the $20 million, before taxes, over 30 years.