RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — John and Norma Jean Crippen were revealed Tuesday as the lucky Coachella Valley couple who bought this past weekend's winning California SuperLotto Plus ticket valued at $20 million.
"I've been playing these same numbers for a number of years," John said at a news conference in San Bernardino.
The Crippens of Rancho Mirage have been married for 60 years. They have two children and four grandchildren.
John, who bought the ticket at a nearby corner Chevron gas station at 36-101 Bob Hope Drive, said he's regularly bought lottery tickets there since the couple moved to Rancho Mirage six years ago.
His winning numbers — 21, 22, 25, 28, 43, and Mega 12 — had no special significance, he added.
The couple's odds of winning the jackpot were about one in 41 million, lottery officials said.
"That's not bad odds," John said.
The Crippens opted to take a lump cash payment on the ticket valued at an estimated $14.2 million
Both John, 81, and Norma Jean, 78, are cancer survivors.
John said he successfully underwent treatment for cancer at Eisenhower Medical Center earlier this year and the pair plans to donate a portion of the winnings to the Rancho Mirage hospital.
Norma Jean said she beat breast cancer in the 1990s, following treatment at UCLA.
The couple also plans to donate to Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells, where they attend weekly services.
A fellow congregant was the first to inform them after church Sunday morning that someone had bought the winning ticket at the Rancho Mirage Chevron.
John has a career in sales, marketing and product development dating back to 1948.
He said he has tried retirement several times, but each time "it took a week for me to go back to work."
Norma Jean works as a housewife taking care of the couple's kids and grandkids.
She can't stay too active due to heart complications stemming from her cancer treatments, she said.
Even though they're now millionaires, John said he has no immediate plans to leave his current job with a down-and-feather business based in Irwindale.
It's up to his employer, he said.
"I always said that if I find myself not being a help to the business you won't have to get rid of me, I'll leave myself," he added.
Whatever John decides, the Crippens, who've watched the Coachella Valley grow over the past 40 years, say they're considering investing in solar and other technologies, as well as light manufacturing, to help spur more local jobs and development.
This is not the first time a winning ticket has been bought in the Coachella Valley.
In 2009, a ticket worth $7 million was purchased by John and Patricia Estrada of Desert Hot Springs at a Chevron mini-mart on Palm Drive, just south of the city.
In 2007, Coachella Valley resident Thomas Thornton purchased a winning $34 million Mega Millions jackpot ticket at La Quinta Liquor and Deli in the La Quinta Cove.
And, in 2004, Charles "Chuck" Bush of Lindsay was passing through the valley when he stopped at a Dillon Road Chevron in Coachella and bought a SuperLotto ticket.
That winning ticket was valued at $44 million.
Meanwhile, the Crippens said they are contemplating a cruise to Alaska sometime soon with the whole family.
One of their grandsons is a swim instructor whose student recently won two gold medals at the Special Olympics 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, they said.
Another grandson is about to graduate into the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego.
"So this is secondary," John said, referring to the winning ticket.
Nonetheless, he said he plans to keep playing the lottery.
"I'm planning to win again tonight," he quipped.
Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas contributed.
(Click to display full-size in gallery)