Ticket in $261.3 million Powerball jackpot bought in Hermann

Friday, July 11, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Winning half a share of Wednesday's $261.3 million Powerball jackpot hasn't -- yet -- produced any big spending dreams for William and Claudia Walkenbach.

Bill wants to "finally get me a tractor with brakes."

For wife Claudia, it's a new refrigerator to replace the 30-year-old model sitting in their kitchen in Hermann.

Not exactly big ticket items that will make a dent in the either approximately $130.6 million in 30 annual installments of $4.3 million, or a lump sum payment of $73.6 million.

But as Bill Walkenbach, 53, said Thursday: "It hasn't sunk in yet."

The couple bought their winning ticket -- the second winning ticket for the fourth-largest jackpot in the game's history was sold in Pennsylvania -- on Wednesday at the Hermann Fuel Mart. Claudia, 52, had $5 left after buying a copy of the Hermann Advertiser-Courier, and with that change snatched up five tickets with computer-selected numbers.

The discovery one of those tickets was worth millions came while watching the 10:00 p.m. news Wednesday for the winning numbers, and the Walkenbach said Thursday they have not slept since.

The announcement earlier in the day that the winning ticket was sold in Hermann created quite a stir in the quaint, German town of 2,754 nestled along the Missouri River.

"Hopefully it's a familiar face," said Arthur Hoffmann, owner of Hermann Fuel Mart, before the Walkenbachs were announced as the winners in Jefferson City. "Everyone is kind of in a glowing mood. We're not used to this type of thing here. I think everybody is in disbelief."

Hoffmann, 42, said he found out about the local winning ticket at 6 a.m. Thursday as he got out of the shower. He had bought $3 in tickets for himself and his first thought was that maybe he won. No such luck -- although the Hermann Fuel Mart will get a $50,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.

The Walkenbachs, who have lived in Hermann all their lives, described themselves as tired and overwhelmed. Claudia is a substitute teacher in the Gasconade County R-1 School District; Bill is a production supervisor. In addition to the tractor and the refrigerator, the couple plans to share some of their new wealth with their two grown sons.

Other plans for the money include travel -- "In the summer we're going to go north and in the winter we're going to go south," Claudia said -- and that refrigerator.

"I may get a new gun, but after we get a new refrigerator," Bill said.

The couple said despite the good fortune and plans for good things in the future, they don't feel any different. In fact, they didn't tell anyone they had won before the news was announced in Jefferson City, they said.

"We're not the type that like to be showy," Claudia said.

Just two days ago, the couple had been discussing their retirement, they said. Now, they don't think it will be a problem.

Known for its wineries and Oktoberfest celebrations, Hermann -- tucked away among mid-Missouri's rolling hills and fields -- is filled with antique shops and cozy bed and breakfasts.

"It's crazy," said Hermann resident Nichole Eikermann, 20. "You never picture Hermann to be the place where somebody would win it."

There have been 22 Powerball winners in Missouri, more than any other state, said Gary Gonder, the state lottery's communications director. The last was in February, when a St. Louis couple won $21 million. Wednesday's jackpot is the largest for a Missouri winner, exceeding a $69 million jackpot won by a St. Charles woman in November 1995.

Nationwide, 40 players picked five of the numbers drawn, but not the Powerball, and they will get $100,000 each. Two of those tickets were sold in Missouri, at The Mill in Southwest City and a Schnuck's Market in Ladue.

The size of the jackpot brought a big increase in sales in Missouri and elsewhere. On Wednesday alone, $4.5 million in Powerball tickets were sold in Missouri, where average sales for an entire week are about $2.3 million.

The numbers in Wednesday night's drawing were 19-21-26-31-51 and the Powerball was 40.

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