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November 30, 2012

Powerball winners in Missouri planning 'a pretty good Christmas'

DEARBORN, Mo. — Cindy and Mark Hill were high school sweethearts. They graduated from North Platte High School in Dearborn a year apart in the late 1970s.

Yesterday morning they were back, in a school gym full of students, friends and family, to go public as winners of half of a record $588 million Powerball jackpot. Missouri Lottery officials handed them an oversized mock check made out for $293,750,000.

Instead of taking that amount stretched over 29 years, the Hills plan to take a lump sum of $192 million. After state and federal taxes, they will be left with, by the rough calculations of lottery officials, $136,585,489. And 56 cents.

“I think we’re going to have a pretty good Christmas,” said Cindy, 51.

She and Mark, who married in 1990, grew up in Dearborn, a Platte County town of about 500 roughly halfway between Kansas City and St. Joseph, Mo. They have three grown sons — Jason, 28, Cody, 30, and Jarod, 31 — and a 6-year-old daughter, Jaiden.

In and out of work the last few years, “it has really been rough,” Cindy said. “But we survived.”

She was laid off from her job as an office manager in June 2010. After taking off a year to spend time with Jaiden, who started first grade this fall, she started looking for work.

She had a telephone job interview scheduled for Thursday morning, but in the hoopla she missed the call. She hasn’t had time to call back.

Mark, 52, who had been out of work himself, started a job in February as a mechanic on the night shift at the Hillshire Brands meat processing plant in St. Joseph.

Those nights are over, he said.

Cindy said Mark gave her the money to buy tickets before Wednesday night’s drawing. He told her, “Here’s $10. Go buy 10 lottery tickets,” she said.

She had to explain to him that Powerball tickets are $2 each.

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