CONCORD, N.H. — Bob Jaracz always considered himself a lucky guy.
The Navy war veteran survived a jet fighter crash in Korea, was a POW who escaped his captors, and made it home to the U.S. to marry his true love and raise three boys.
Now Bob and Diane Jaracz should consider themselves really lucky. The Nashua couple are the first New Hampshire residents to win a lottery grand prize twice.
"Whenever I cash my tickets, they say, 'Here comes Mister Lucky,'" says Jaracz. He and his wife won Tri-State Megabucks in 2005 for $1.9 million, as well as hitting the jackpot on Tri-State Weekly Grand this past September for $1,040,000 million.
Jaracz said he learned about his first big win on Thanksgiving Day 2005 while his wife was preparing dinner. He heard on the news that someone who purchased their ticket from Captain's Corner Variety in Nashua hit the Tri-State Megabucks jackpot. After checking his numbers online, Jaracz says he broke the news to a house full of family and guests. "I came down the stairs and said, 'Guess what?' It was great Thanksgiving Day."
Bob Jaracz, a semiretired engineer, and his wife Diane, a retired New York City school teacher, used their winnings to pay off the mortgage, spruce up the house, and purchase a luxury car.
On Sept. 25, Jaracz was checking his numbers online when he learned lightning had struck twice. One of his Tri-State Weekly Grand tickets he purchased at the Hannaford supermarket on Coliseum Ave hit for another grand prize. "I said, 'Oh, no. Here we go again.'" At first, Diane did not believe him that they'd won the lottery twice.
"This is the first time we know of that a New Hampshire lottery winner has won a grand prize more than once," says Rick Wisler, executive director of the NH Lottery. "And the Jaracz's are wonderful couple. We couldn't be happier for them or their family."
Both winning tickets were purchased on games from the Tri-State Lottery, the multi-state lottery offered by New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Each time, the Jaracz's had won on Easy Picks (numbers randomly chosen for them by the lottery terminal), and chose to receive their winnings in one lump sum instead of an annuitized payout.
Call it an embarrassment of riches, but Jaracz says they haven't told too many about the second prize winner. He says he's sensitive to the hard economic times his neighbors feel. The couple has put their winnings in a trust and now has professional investors to help manage their wealth. But Bob continues with his hobby of buying $40 in tickets each week, banking on yet another surprising win.
"I think three is a lucky number," he says.