St. Louis' newest millionaires are two city employees who bought a winning Powerball ticket this month.
Tom Rea, a building maintenance supervisor for the city's department of corrections and his wife, Catherine Ruggeri-Rea, the city's courts administrator, were announced as the winners of a $70 million jackpot at a news conference Wednesday morning.
Rea, 62, has worked for the city for 40 years. Ruggeri-Rea, 61, has been the city's courts administrator for nearly 10 years.
Rea bought the ticket at a St. Louis Hills gas station on July 4. He said he later returned there to scan the ticket to see if it was a winner and couldn't believe when it said he'd won. He asked an employee to double-check.
"You won, sir, you won the big money," he remembers her telling him.
Rea said that before the lottery win he had visited a Bentley dealership with his wife to fantasize about one day owning one. After scanning the ticket, he called her and asked "What color Bentley do you want?" and told her they'd won the lottery.
Ruggeri-Rea, who was on crutches because she'd broken her heel, said she told him, "If you are lying to me, I will hit you over the head with my crutch."
The $70 million jackpot is the ninth-largest ever won in Missouri. The last time someone won a big Powerball jackpot in Missouri was Nov. 8, 2014. That winner, a woman from Texas, won $202 million after buying her ticket at Union Station in St. Louis.
The business that sold this month's winning ticket, a Gas Mart at 6901 Hampton Avenue near Loughborough Avenue, will receive a $50,000 bonus.
The winning numbers were 3, 6, 14, 18, and 24, with Powerball number 21. The drawing was, appropriately enough, on Independence Day.
The couple chose to take a lump-sum payment of $42.7 million instead of the $70 million in installments.
The St. Louis Hills couple, who have no children, are still making plans for how they'll use the money. Rea, who is on vacation this week, said he wasn't sure if he'd return to work. Ruggeri-Rea said she wanted to finish up a couple of big projects and would stay in her job until October.
Ruggeri-Rea was appointed to the courts administrator position by Mayor Francis Slay in 2006. She doesn't make the news much in that role, but she did come under some scrutiny in 2012 for paying her brother $2,250 for "emergency" accounting work without a contract. She said emergency help was needed to get the court's financial books in order after staffers left. At the time, Slay's administration said she didn't follow procedures but didn't break any law. The threshold for a competitive bidding process is $5,000.
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Thanks to lele100 for the tip.