Aug 12, 2007, 8:50 am
Francis Stephenson struck Powerball gold this week.
South Carolina's first Powerball million-dollar winner in 2005, the 61-year-old Chester native scored a $400,000 prize Tuesday when he learned his quick pick ticket matched the first five numbers.
"I never thought I would win big again," he said. "When you buy a ticket, (there's) that possibility you might win."
Two years ago, Stephenson bought his winning ticket at the Pantry Express convenience store on the J.A. Cochran Bypass. At the time, he was the state's biggest winner ever.
Stephenson bought his latest winner at Grant's Grocery on Pinckney Road on Saturday but didn't know he'd won because he read his ticket wrong. He stopped by another store for a Coke on Tuesday when someone told him that a customer at Grant's had landed a $400,000 prize.
"They did?" Stephenson asked. "That's where I bought my ticket."
"You better check your ticket," the man told him.
So he called his wife, Linda, and she took a look.
"And bless that, I'd won," he said. "I really didn't know I had."
When asked about his wife's reaction, Stephenson offered the understatement of the year:
"She was real happy," he said. "I gave her the money to invest. ... I got a little bit of it, but I didn't get much."
The government gets 32 percent off the top, he said. When he won the $1 million, taxes ate more than $250,000.
But just like when he won big two years ago, Stephenson said he doesn't expect the money to change him.
His major purchase after the last win was a two-door Chevy truck to haul trash.
This time, Stephenson said, he might buy a lawnmower. His broke Saturday, although he's debating repairing it himself.
"I do most of my own little old work," he said.
In July, he retired from Superior Essex, a telephone cable manufacturing company, after 35 years of work. Some health problems have limited what he can do, but he hopes to play golf again.
"I don't change very much," he said. "I have a lot of friends in Chester, and I like playing around with them. ... I hope one day I can get back out there and play (golf)."
The S.C. Education Lottery doesn't keep statistics on people who win a large sum more than once, said spokeswoman Stephanie Hemminghaus.
But logic says that doesn't happen often.
Stephenson said he usually buys tickets when the prize is high, particularly when it reaches the $100-million mark.
When interviewed after his win two years ago, he said that despite the odds of winning the lottery twice, he'd keep buying tickets.
"I'm sure I'll try again," he said then. "You never know if you're gonna win."
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