Big-payoff lottery lightning landed thrice in Marion County, Florida over the past week.
Saturday's single Lotto ticket worth $15 million was sold in Summerfield, while one of two winning combinations in Sunday's Fantasy Five drawing worth $83,346 was sold in Ocala. As of the close of business Monday, neither winner had presented themselves. Winners have 180 days to claim their prizes.
However, an Ocala resident who won a $103,440 Fantasy Five drawing from a week ago received his prize on Monday, Florida Lottery officials said. Henri-Paul Robitaille held one of two winning tickets in the Oct. 20 drawing; the other was from Sarasota County. Robitaille's ticket was purchased at a Handy Way on West State Road 40.
A clerk at the store said Robitaille, who regularly buys his tickets there, dropped by Monday afternoon to show off his check.
"Yeah, I'm happy for him," she said. "I'm happy for anybody who wins money."
Should the Saturday's Lotto winner choose a lump-sum cash option, the winning ticket is worth $8,013,078, less Uncle Sam's share; the 30-year annuity choice is worth $500,000 annually, said Sheila Griffin, communications director for the Florida Lottery.
"The person who won Saturday played personal numbers," she said.
"The winning ticket was not a quick pick."
This makes the 12th winning ticket either held by a Marion County resident or sold in Marion County, she added. The retailer selling the winning ticket gets a $10,000 bonus. This is the first time a winning ticket was sold in Summerfield.
Bill Tuck Jr., president of Kwik King, which owns the store at 16482 S. U.S. 301, said everyone at the company is "real excited.
"We've sold several winners, probably worth about $50 million, over the years," he added. "I hope the winner is somebody who really needs it and can really use it."
It won't be until the winner actually makes it to the Lottery office in Tallahassee before that's known. Winning tickets worth more than $250,000 can be claimed only in the state's capital.
Robitaille, however, claimed his winnings at one of the Lottery's nine district offices, according to Lottery officials. And that's likely where the winning ticket from Sunday's Fantasy Five also will be presented.
Meanwhile, Ken Patel, owner of Northgate Jiffy Food and Gas, at 4762 NW Gainesville Road, where the local winning Fantasy Five ticket was purchased, is happy for one of his customers - perhaps one of the nearly 200 or so who regularly buy their lottery tickets at his store. The other winning ticket was sold in Edgewater.
"I don't know who it is, but I'm glad about it," Patel said. "We've had some winners before - not big like this, only about $20,000."
While Lotto jackpots are drawn twice a week all year, autumn seems to favor winners from Marion County.
According to Lottery records, seven of the 12 Marion County winners were drawn in September, October or November. Lotto was three years old when the first Marion County jackpot was drawn on June 29, 1991. A month later, a winning combination sold in McIntosh was pulled.
Seven winners are on record as actually living in Marion County, another four lived elsewhere but bought their ticket here.