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'Education Hero' wins lottery twice

Apr 11, 2006, 10:12 am

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California Lottery

The first time Maurice Wiley appeared on the California Lottery's Big Spin, he won $1 million.

The second time Wiley appeared, he was given the Hero in Education award for doing good things with his windfall.

Nobody expected to see him a third time.

"When I found out he was going back on, I was like, 'What for?' " said lottery spokeswoman Cathy Johnston.

On Saturday, the onetime Inglewood teacher won $100,000.

"I tell you, I think I'm still dreaming," he said.

And he's still doing what he's been doing since he became a millionaire in 1989. Sure, he took care of himself, invested in land and bought a couple of cars, but he also gives money to the Inglewood Education Foundation.

And, more importantly, the 65-year-old Los Angeles resident was able to take early retirement so he could devote time and energy to the students of the Inglewood Unified School District. He worked there 35 years, beginning as a teacher and working his way to assistant to the superintendent. There's the adopt-a-school program he's starting. And a golf tournament he's organizing.

"We have encouraged volunteers to tutor students," he said. "We've set up special reading programs, science and math programs."

Wiley gives money, too, but believes it's an unseemly thing to boast about.

"I don't like to promote that you're giving," he said. "You have people who have much more than I and they give more than I do."

Lottery officials decided to honor him after he retired in 1999.

"Many people take a traditional retirement and begin to travel," Johnston said. "But Maurice wanted to continue to help the students. His most recent program is where he got some corporate partners, such as (Los Angeles International Airport) to donate money to help buy equipment. To take the time to get corporations to donate big dollars, that's what makes the big difference."

There have been lottery winners who have appeared on the Big Spin more times than Wiley, but he's the only one who has won the Hero in Education award.

And he said he doesn't even buy that many lottery tickets. "Just a few here and there," he said. "Not all the time, no."

With Saturday's boost to his finances, he plans to keep on helping students. Not that he doesn't plan to spend some of it himself.

"I'm going to continue to take care of my home," he said. "I'm going to take care of myself and my family. Charity begins at home."

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