Feb 27, 2007, 10:40 am
Ed O'Neill's bank account just got a lot bigger, thanks to a co-worker who told him some "idiot" hasn't claimed an $800,000 Powerball lottery prize.
O'Neill, 58, who works for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, bought the ticket for a Jan. 6 Powerball drawing. He told Iowa Lottery staffers he didn't think to check the results until a couple days afterward when a chamber receptionist pointed out an article in the local newspaper.
"She said, 'Read this article about the idiot that hasn't claimed his ticket.' So I read it and noticed where the ticket was bought," O'Neill said. "I thought, 'Gee, I better look at my ticket.' That's when I said, 'I think I won.'"
Then he called his wife, Diane, 58, who thought he was pulling a prank.
O'Neill said his wife told him to "quit horsing around. I'm watching Oprah."
O'Neill countered: "No, really, Diane. I won."
Hysteria soon ensued as Diane realized he wasn't joking.
On Monday, the couple cashed in the ticket at the lottery headquarters in Des Moines, but not before meeting with an accountant and planning how to handle the winnings.
"There's a lot of responsibility that comes with that kind of money," O'Neill said.
O'Neill won by matching five white balls in the Powerball game. He also had purchased the Power Play option, multiplying a $200,000 prize by four.
Paying mortgages, saving — and fun
After taxes, the couple will get about $560,000 — much of which will go to pay off their mortgage, pay off their children's mortgages and save for retirement.
There will be a little left for fun, too. O'Neill said he and his wife are planning a trip to Ireland.
They also plan to donate money to Prince of Peace Catholic Parish in Clinton to help pay for construction of another church.
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