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$2-Million Lottery Winners : Trash Collector and Refugee Hit Jackpot

From Times Wire Services

An unemployed Vietnamese refugee who said he fled his native land by boat and a 19-year-old Bakersfield garbage collector each won $2 million Monday in the fourth weekly California Lottery spin-off held in a Hollywood studio.

It brought to seven the number of $2-million winners since the spin-offs began. Each spin-off involves 20 contestants drawn from among $100 scratch-off ticket winners.

Both Todd Lane, who appeared at first to have won a mere $50,000 only to have the ball fall suddenly into the $2-million slot on the wheel, and non-English-speaking Hai Vo said they intend to buy homes.

Lane was the ninth contestant to spin the wheel before an audience in the studio where the event was taped for Monday night presentation on television. After the ball hesitated at $50,000, then made him a millionaire, Lane told TV show host Chuck Woolery he means to take care of his family, pay off his bills and buy a home.

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Lane, who lives with his mother, said he had quit his temporary garbage collector job earlier in the day.

Fled South Vietnam

Hai Vo, 25, who was the 18th contestant to spin the wheel and the day’s other $2-million winner, said he was a fisherman who fled South Vietnam in 1979 with his uncle and 20 other people in a small boat.

He told reporters through an interpreter that he is poor, is married and has three small children, and had spent about $200 from his unemployment checks on lottery tickets. He said he wants to use part of his winnings--$100,000 a year for 20 years--to buy a house and to bring his parents, four brothers and four sisters to the United States.

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He said he also wants to “help other poor people.”

Edward Gigandet of Norwalk, the 20th wheel-spinner, won $100,000, while nine other contestants won $50,000 each and eight won $10,000.

Lottery officials say the odds of buying one ticket and ultimately winning $2 million are 25 million to 1.

The odds were worse than that for Mary Murphy, 56, of Fontana, and Lawrence D. Jones, 37, of Pedley, both of whom were arrested Monday on charges of forging lottery tickets.

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California Lottery security officer Runo Lemmings said Murphy had attempted to cash in a cut-and-paste $10,000 ticket and that Jones had tried to put together a $5,000 winner from two tickets. Each was booked on a warrant charging grand theft and forgery.


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