Apr 8, 2006, 10:21 am
With only two hours left, Jose Luis Martinez of Roswell walked into New Mexico Lottery headquarters and claimed a $200,000 Powerball prize that was about to expire.
Martinez told lottery officials that he had carried the ticket in his wallet the entire 90 days, but never got around to checking it.
The deadline, 90 days from the date of the January 7, 2006, drawing, would have been April 7, at 4:30 pm, when the Lottery's claim center closed for the weekend.
Two days ago, Martinez and his wife, Armida Lozano, first heard the news on a Roswell television station announcing a $200,000 Powerball ticket sold in Roswell would soon expire. Lozano then checked the tickets she also had.
Friday morning the couple had a flat tire while taking their daughter to school. A friend took them to have the tire fixed. Coincidently, their friend had a copy of Friday's Roswell Daily Record newspaper and a story that a $200,000 Powerball ticket would expire that afternoon.
While waiting for the flat repair, Martinez decided to check the tickets he had in his wallet against the winning numbers printed in the newspaper article.
"Those are my numbers," Martinez told his wife.
"At first I thought it wasn't true," said Lozano. "But then I did after I saw his ticket and the numbers in the paper."
The couple had the ticket checked at a Roswell store that confirmed it was the missing $200,000 ticket.
The ticket had five sets of hand-picked numbers. It was the second set that matched the white ball numbers drawn January 7. Those numbers were: 2-16-21-32-43. Martinez said he always plays with hand-picked numbers. His winning set of numbers represented special personal dates.
The only winning number Martinez lacked was the red Powerball of 6. His ticket had 23, missing that night's jackpot of $56.4 million dollars.
Martinez bought his Powerball ticket at Allsup's Convenience Store #268, 520 E. 2nd Street in Roswell. The same store previously sold a $5,000 Powerball third prize, as well as 10 large winning Scratchers worth $1,000 to $2,100. As part of the Lottery's retailer incentive program, Allsup's #268 is eligible to receive a $2,500 bonus for selling a $200,000 winning Powerball ticket.
The couple said they'll keep playing, and working, until they hit the millions.
"And we'll be checking our tickets sooner," Lozano added.
Martinez works for Queso Grande Dairy in Roswell, and Lozano is a stay at home mother.
The couple said they plan to buy a home with their winnings and save the rest.
The largest lottery prize claimed by a Roswell resident was $500,000, when Dutch and Janice Ensconatus won the "$500,000 Extravaganza" top prize last July. The largest Powerball second prize claimed in New Mexico was $800,000, won last month by Ignacio Lopez of Santa Fe.
Since 1996 when the New Mexico began playing Powerball, the State has had 180 winners of the second prize; 161 players won $100,000 to $400,000, and an additional 19 players won $200,000 to $800,000 after the prize doubled in September 2005. New Mexico has also had three Powerball jackpot-winning tickets, making 16 people millionaires. In November 2000, 14 Sandia National Laboratory security guards split a $131 million jackpot. In February 2002, a Las Cruces municipal employee won a $32 million jackpot. And in August 2005, a master sergeant at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque won a $93.4 million jackpot. All of the jackpot winners chose the lump-sum cash option.
New Mexico is one of 30 lotteries that participate in the Powerball game.
Based on sales through February and a corresponding fund transfer in late March, the New Mexico Lottery has raised more than $274 million for New Mexico education since the Lottery began in April 1996. Of that, almost $208 million has been earmarked for the popular Lottery Success Scholarship program, which had provided in-state tuition for more than 38,000 college students. Another $66.5 million had previously been used for school construction and repairs.
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