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First Penn. Lucky for Life Lotto Winner Claims Prize

Pennsylvania LotteryPennsylvania Lottery: First Penn. Lucky for Life Lotto Winner Claims Prize

Two Lehigh Valley residents became big winners in the Pennsylvania Lottery this week.

One was Center Valley resident Donna DeMatos, who became the first winner of the state's new Lucky for Life game. The other is an unnamed Bethlehem man whose winning ticket has not been verified by state officials.

DeMatos always wanted to be a nurse, but she worried about how to pay tuition while raising a family.

Now, she will worry no more.

DeMatos matched all six winning numbers in the game's initial drawing Saturday.

"I just can't believe it," DeMatos said Wednesday as she stood inside the Route 378 Mobil Station in Center Valley where she purchased the winning ticket.

Surrounded by her family and state lottery officials, DeMatos received her first symbolic $3,000 monthly installment.

"Donna will receive annual installments of $36,000 per year, less appropriate federal withholding taxes," Lottery spokeswoman Cris A. Stambaugh said.

According to the 54-year-old DeMatos, she decided to purchase $5 worth of Powerball tickets, and as an afterthought purchased two Lucky for Life tickets because she had a $10 bill.

Stambaugh said DeMatos' chance of winning the jackpot prize was 1 in 2,760,681.

"I didn't realize I'd won until Sunday morning when I read the numbers in the paper," DeMatos said.

Gas station manager Paula Odor said store owner Joe Topper insists the store's $10,000 prize will be shared among his eight employees.

"That's the kind of boss we have," Odor said.

With three children to put through college, DeMatos said the money could not have come at a better time.

"Now, I can buy my family things we never could," DeMatos said. "But first, I'm getting my wonderful husband, Jack, a leather jacket for his motorcycle."

DeMatos plans to continue working at the Harriet Carter catalog call center in Allentown through December. In January, she begins classes at St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing.

As for extravagant spending, DeMatos said it isn't likely.

"We may redo our home, repaint and wallpaper, but we're not moving," she said.

Meanwhile, the Bethlehem man cashed a lottery ticket for more than $1 million Wednesday morning at Ressler's Market, said Randy Ressler, the market's owner.

Ressler declined to identify the winner.

"I just don't know that he wants everybody knowing. He may not care, but I don't know," Ressler said.

Ressler said everyone in the store was surprised when the man produced the ticket, none more than the man himself.

"He didn't even know he had it when he came in," Ressler said.

Ressler said when the man learned how much he had won, his words were "Oh, my God!"

Stambaugh of the Pennsylvania Lottery also would not name the man because he has not been certified as a winner.

"As of this time all we have is a claim. We don't have a winner. I can't confirm or deny anything because we don't have anything to confirm or deny," Stambaugh said Wednesday afternoon.

She said the Pennsylvania Lottery has a claim and a Match 6 ticket for the entire $1,065,671 jackpot. The prize would be paid in cash, she said.

The ticket will now be validated, and that could take hours or days, she said.

Asked how a ticket is validated, Stambaugh said, "If I told you I'd have to kill you because I don't even know the process myself."

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