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Lotto Winner Just Never Gave Up

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

Patience, steady betting and dreaming of “the big one” paid off for Jose Amador Granados of Anaheim over the weekend.

Granados, a Mexican national who has lived in California for 14 years, was one of the four winners of the $44.9-million California Lotto 6-49 jackpot.

He is expected to clear about $448,000 annually for the next 20 years after the federal government takes out 20% in taxes, state lottery officials said Monday.

An avid lottery player, Granados said he has spent at least $30 a week on tickets since the lottery began 3 years ago.

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“Every time I go to buy something, I buy a ticket,” he said. He estimated that he has spent more than $3,000 on tickets altogether.

“I was trying and trying,” he said during an interview Monday at the Laguna Hills landscaping company where he is a supervisor.

“I never had this much money before.”

No probability theory or birthdates played roles in Granados’ number selection, which he left to chance. The “pick six” computer chose his winning combination of 16-26-27-36-43-45.

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Granados, 30, said he had trouble sleeping Sunday night because of the excitement. “I feel good, but at the same time I feel different.”

Still, he insisted, riches will not change him.

“I’m still the same person; my personality is going to be the same,” he said, “I don’t like to change.”

Granados said he will keep his job.

Ken Lawson, owner of Lawson Landscaping Maintenance where Granados has worked for 6 years, said he wasn’t too happy about Granados’ good fortune.

“I wasn’t thrilled he won, actually, because I didn’t want him to quit,” Lawson said, only half joking. Managers described Granados as a hard worker--he works 6 days a week--and a good employee who had worked his way up to supervise several crews totaling about 35 men.

With about a dozen gold chains draped about his neck and showy gold rings that he wears on both hands every day, Granados sported a bit of a nouveau riche look Monday. But he said his first purchase from the lottery check, which he expects in 3 weeks, will be a practical one--a home for his parents who live alternately in Tijuana and California. Then, he said, he will buy a new car for himself.

Asked how he will handle people who are expected to ask him for donations, Granados replied that he likes to help poor people.

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“I am of poor people; we came from Mexico,” he explained. “When I have something, I like to help the poor people.”

The winning ticket was purchased at an Albertson’s on Campus Drive in Irvine, which lottery officials said will get about $56,000, or 0.05%, as its share of the winnings.

The three others winners were James Hickey of La Puente, James Hurley of Hayward and Charles Johnson of San Francisco.

TOP 5 COUNTY LOTTO WINNERS

$20,660,000--Ron Smith, Westminster, Oct. 29, 1988.

$19,580,000--Christene Lentz, Capistrano Beach, Aug. 24, 1988

$14,332,143--Zafer Altintas, Irvine, Nov. 23, 1988

$10,975,000--Jose Amador Granados, Anaheim, March 4, 1989

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$10,080,000--Herbans Grewal, Anaheim, May 18, 1988

Source: California State Lottery


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