Sunday, December 21, 2014

Super-lucky lottery player has 3d win

Four people who won two or more lotteries (clockwise from top left): Steven Ontell (right) of Passiac, N.J., with retailer  Bharat Shah; Melvyn Wilson, a four-time winner in Virginia; Connie Cottingham, who won twice in Indiana; and Delma Kinney, who won $1 million twice in Georgia.
Four people who won two or more lotteries (clockwise from top left): Steven Ontell (right) of Passiac, N.J., with retailer Bharat Shah; Melvyn Wilson, a four-time winner in Virginia; Connie Cottingham, who won twice in Indiana; and Delma Kinney, who won $1 million twice in Georgia.

Most people would be thrilled to win one big lottery prize.

Steven Ontell, a retired Passaic, N.J., police officer, has now won three impressive payouts.

The latest came Sept. 6, when he just missed the Mega Millions jackpot, worth $95 million.

Talk about close. He matched the first five numbers, and was within just one number of the Mega Ball, according to the New Jersey Lottery.

His take: $1 million, because besides matching five, he also had the Megaplier prize-multiplier option.

It was his biggest, but not his first win. He also won $40,000 in Powerball in November 2012, and $250,000 in Mega Millions in May 2009.

While it’s true he defied staggering odds – 1 in 689,000 just for his most recent win – it’s also true that tales of multiple winners are nothing new.

Thousands of winners are out there regularly buying tickets, so some are bound to hit, experts explain.

Most impressive of all is probably the case of Joan Ginther, who won four multi-million-dollar prizes in Texas: $5.4 million in a 1993 drawing, $2 million in a 2006, $3 million in 2008, and $10 million in 2010, the last three in scratchoff games.

Also remarkable is Jody Massengale of Palm City Beach, Fla. He won $3 million in a scratch-off game in November 2010, then won $10 million more in another instant game in May 2011.

Some more examples:

August 2013: Connie Cottingham of Indiana won $1 million in a scratch-off game. She also won $500,000 in 2008.

May 2013: Melvyn Wilson won $500,000 in a Virginia instant game. Previous scratchoff wins: $500,000 in November 2004, $25,000 in March 2005, $1 million in September 2005.

February 2012, a CNN producer Jennifer Hauser won $1 million playing a Georgia instant game, three months after winning $100,000 in another scratchoff.

November 2011: Delma Kinney of Georgia won $1 million in a scratchoff game for the second time.

September 2010: Randy Rittenbaugh of Schuylkill County, Pa., in one month snagged $60,000 in the Pennsylvania Lottery's Money Comb instant game, then hit a Cash 5 jackpot worth $1.2 million.

2010: Florida’s Richard Lustig, who now offers tips on improving chances of winning, won $99,000, one in a series of payoffs since 2000 that included an $842,000 in 2002, $74,000 in 2008 other prizes ranging from $1,000 to $5,150. His wife also won prizes worth $10,000 and $14,000.

2005: Donna Goeppert of Bethlehem, Pa., won $1 million in January playing the $1 Million Blockbuster instant game - then did it again that June.

In publicizing her win, state officials pointed out that over a 12-year period, a Carbon County man won four jackpots worth a sum of $3 million.

And this is by no means an exhaustive list. Lottery Post has a list of links to stories about multiple winners.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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