DEARBORN, Mo. – A Missouri mechanic and his unemployed wife claimed their share Friday of the record $588 million Powerball jackpot.
And for Mark and Cindy Hill, who have three grown sons and an adopted 6-year-old daughter, they can already envision a possible use for some of that money: perhaps another adoption.
To announce one of the biggest events of their lives together, Cindy, 51, and Mark, 52, returned to the place where it all began – North Platte High School, where they became sweethearts in the 1970s.
Surrounded by family and friends, the two were introduced as the winners – an extraordinary stroke of luck that gives them half of the $588 million jackpot.
The nostalgic high school homecoming seemed to reflect the couple’s hopes of staying true to their roots and living simply, at least as simply as possible for winners of one of the biggest lottery prizes in history.
“We will still be going down to the corner café for breakfast or fish day. I can guarantee you,” Cindy Hill said. “You know it’s just us. We’re just normal human beings. We’re as common as anybody. We just have a little bit more money.”
The Hills said they don’t play the lottery regularly. They spent $10 on five tickets with random numbers. The result: After taxes, they will take home a lump sum of $136.5 million.
“We’re still stunned by what’s happened,” said Cindy Hill, a former office manager who was laid off in 2010. “It’s surreal.”
The other winning ticket was sold in Fountain Hills, Ariz., near Phoenix. No one has come forward with it yet, lottery officials said.
Joining the Hills at the news conference were their children, with the youngest, Jaiden, sitting on Mark’s lap clutching a black stuffed horse. She was adopted from China five years ago.
Cindy Hill, sounding cautious and a little concerned about the windfall, said they have no immediate plans to move out of their single-story ranch house.
But they will have more free time. Mark Hill quit his job as a mechanic Thursday. His wife, who missed a scheduled job interview on the same day, has no plans to keep looking for work. Instead, she plans to focus on their daughter.
“Right now, she’s our most important thing,” Cindy Hill said. “And we want her to have normal things. It’s Christmastime, and we want to be home. ... We want everything normal.”
Mark Hill said the adjustment in the family income hadn’t quite sunk in yet. He had to buy some small things Thursday when the family was in Jefferson City waiting for the Missouri Lottery to validate their ticket.
“We had to get like toothpaste and stuff like that, and I found myself at the store still looking at the price of stuff,” he said.
Some of the money will go toward travel, perhaps back to China for another adoption or “wherever the wind takes us,” Cindy Hill said. They also will help relatives, including establishing college funds for their grandchildren and nieces and nephews. Mark Hill has his eye on a red Camaro.
She said the family will also be contributing to charities, including a scholarship fund in the local school district in her father-in-law’s name. And they hope to continue advocating for adoption, which is “very big with us.”
“We want to say, too, that God blessed us with this. And for some reason, he put it in our hands, I think, to make sure that it goes to the right things,” she said. “But we were blessed before we ever won this.”