It’s Powerball day.
Meaning that later tonight, someone, somewhere could become at least $430 million richer.
It could be you, right? It has to be someone.
Frequently throughout Powerball history, winning tickets have been purchased in Kansas. The biggest winner from the state was Donald Damon, a retired truck driver from Great Bend who won a $96.6 million jackpot in 2009.
We’ve had a few $50 million winners, and several others who won enough dough to seriously change their lives. One was even from Wichita.
Some have disappeared into obscurity. Some have remained anonymous. Some have met tragic ends. Some weren’t even from Kansas.
Here’s the top 10 Powerball jackpots ever won in the Sunflower State:
1. Donald Damon, Great Bend: $96.6 million, November 2009: In 2009, Donald Damon had hit hard times. The 70-year-old Great Bend resident had been forced to retire from his job as a truck driver after 27 years. His wife, Kathleen, had to take on three jobs. He bought his winning ticket at Dillons in Great Bend seven hours before the drawing. He and his wife, who earned $33.8 million after taxes, gave $1.1 million to the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Rossville to go toward building a new church.
2. 26 American Airlines Workers from Tulsa, Okla.: $50 million, March 2000: A group of maintenance workers at American Airlines in Tulsa had a get-rich ritual: Once a month, they’d pool their money (each gave $10) to buy lottery tickets, and one of them would drive to the Gunny Sack convenience store in Caney, Kan., to make the buy since Oklahoma didn’t have a lottery – and wouldn’t for another five years. They chose the lump sum of $25.9 million, which totaled $668,458 apiece after taxes. Just after the win, all the workers said they planned to keep their jobs.
3. Anonymous, Johnson County: $50 million, Dec. 2012: A couple in their 70s won this jackpot, electing to take the cash option and pocketed $22.9 million after taxes. They chose to remain anonymous, though lottery officials said they’d been married for 48 years and planned to share their winnings with their three children and start college funds for their five grandchildren. The ticket was purchased at a 7-11 on Johnson Drive in Shawnee.
4. Pat Dreiling, Manhattan: $31.2 million, September 1995: This 57-year-old Manhattan orthodontist made his fortune when he was on his way to a KSU-Northern Illinois football game. Not a regular lottery ticket buyer, he ran into a Texaco station to get a pack of cigarettes. He saw the sign for the jackpot and thought, “Why not?” It took him a few days to come forward, he said, because he was busy with patients, but he said at the time he might splurge on a parking pass for KSU games.
5. Mary Ann Bowles, Wichita: $26.5 million, June 1996: She was on her way home from picking up her final paycheck at Coleman, where she’d just retired after 30 years so she could stay home and take care of her husband, Jim, who’d been diagnosed with cancer. But first, Mary Anne Bowles, then 60, stopped into the Snacks convenience store at 3733 Arkansas and bought a Powerball ticket. It ended up being worth $26.5 million. At the time, she said she planned to set up college funds for her 10 grandchildren, get her husband well and maybe buy a new minivan.
She died just a few months later of stomach and liver cancer, which she’d been diagnosed with only a few days after her win was announced. Her husband died a month later.
6. Felix Kane, Gardner: $22.5 million, May 1994: Felix Kane was 71 when he and his wife Laverne, residents of Gardner, won a Powerball jackpot. At the news conference, the couple said they had plans to buy a new RV. Felix had purchased one $5 lottery ticket a week for a year from the Price Chopper in Olathe and always let the computer pick his numbers.
In 2007, the Kanes’ son-in-law, a used car dealership owner in Michigan, was arrested for embezzling $2 million from the couple, allegedly leaving them destitute. All charges were later dropped.
7. Lois Hampton, Olathe: $20.9 million, Oct. 1994: This 63-year-old grandmother, who had spent her life as a homemaker, bought $15 worth of Powerball tickets from her son at the liquor store where he worked. Later that night, she watched the drawing on television, and all of the number matched. A widow, Hampton said she planned to put away money for her grandchildren’s education and take her family on a trip to Las Vegas. She also planned to buy a one-story house so her mother would be able to get around in her wheelchair.
8. John Towse, Gardner: $17.6 million, March 1993: The 1990s were a hot time for lottery winners in Gardner. The small town, which in the early ‘90s had about 4,500 residents, had another winner the year before Felix Kane won. Towse, onetime brick mason, was 55 when he bought a ticket using his favorite numbers – a combination of his family’s birth dates. After Towse won, he reported that he called his ex-wife and two children and announced the news over a steak and champagne dinner. Towse has since died but he passed on much of his winnings to his family.
9. Alden Oldsen, Olathe: $15.1 million, September 1996: This computer repairman didn’t realize for a couple of days that the ticket he’d purchased at a Kwik Shop on the way home from visiting friends in Burlingame would make him a millionaire. He said at the time that he planned to spend conservatively and proved it by replacing his old Ford Taurus with a new Ford Taurus. It appears that Oldsen, now 65, today lives in South Dakota.
10. Anonymous, Topeka area: $15 million, September 2006: This person decided to remain anonymous, but his or her jackpot broke a six-year Powerball victory drought in Kansas.