Ironton couple claims $3.7 million lottery prize

Thursday, January 25, 2007

An Ironton, Mo., couple quietly claimed a $3.7 million Missouri Lotto prize this week, nearly a month after winning the money.

Jimmie and Marylin Lovelace presented the winning ticket for the Dec. 23 lotto drawing at the St. Louis lottery office Monday, lottery spokeswoman Susan Goedde said. Lottery security officials verified the ticket Wednesday afternoon, she said.

The ticket was sold at the Jackson BP, 1831 E. Jackson Blvd. For more than a month, the prize went unclaimed, with the only report of a potential winner surfacing when an the winning ticket was checked at the Town and Country Supermarket on Jan. 3.

The Lovelaces declined to participate in a news conference to announce their prize, lottery spokeswoman Susan Goedde said.

The Lovelaces will take a cash payout for the Lotto prize, $2.3 million before taxes, Goedde said. If they had opted to take the prize in annual payments, it would have totaled $3.7 million.

In an interview with lottery officials, the Lovelaces said they took extreme care to guard the ticket.

"We put it in a safety deposit box, and it has stayed there until we took it out this morning," Marilyn Lovelace, 64, told lottery officials when the couple claimed the prize. "We don't jump too quickly on anything."

Marilyn Lovelace works as a registered nurse at the Parkland Health Center in Farmington, but not for much longer, she told lottery officials. "I was planning to retire when I reached 65," she said. "Now I can sooner."

Jimmie Lovelace, 66, retired from Ford Motor Co.'s Hazelwood plant in 1993. He said he allowed the computer to select the numbers on his winning ticket.

The Lovelaces said they plan to invest some of the prize money and travel. The first vacation on the list is a family trip, they said.

"Our son-in-law will probably get deployed to Iraq in the near future, so we plan to take a family vacation," Marilyn Lovelace said. The destination is uncertain, she said, and will be decided by the couple's grown daughter, her husband and their son.

Marilyn Lovelace told lottery officials she wants to visit Alaska.

The Lovelaces are the third players to buy a ticket in Cape Girardeau County worth more than $1 million. Mable Smith of Scott City won $6.8 million in 1990 on a ticket purchased at the National Supermarket in Cape Girardeau. John and Bev Gibson of Jackson won $4.3 million on a ticket purchased at Country Mart in Jackson.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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