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It’s All ‘Gravy’ : Lotto Millions Go to Well-Off Retiree of 87

Times Staff Writer

Happy? You bet. Overwhelmed? Not exactly.

For Huntington Beach’s newest millionaire, William W. Peterson, 87, hitting the Lotto jackpot over the weekend was, in his words, “a lot of gravy.”

“We were already comfortably well off,” he said about himself and his wife, Marjore, 88. “I’m a retired automobile dealer. I had a dealership in Hawaii for about 27 years. So we had money of our own. You might say that we were already financially independent.”

Still, Peterson said, it is nice to have more money rolling in: “Hey, you don’t find $6.8 million just lying in the street. Now I’m a multimillionaire.”

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Peterson said he first learned he was a winner from his wife.

‘Cool as a Cucumber’

“I wasn’t watching the drawing on TV Saturday night, but my wife was,” Peterson said Monday in an interview. “I was in another room watching some other show on TV. But then my wife came in the room, and I knew something was up. She was cool as a cucumber. Not excited, no sir. Just very cool, and she pointed to the numbers that had been drawn. I had all six.”

Another winner in Alameda also picked the six numbers and will also get $6.8 million. That winner, however, had not been identified by late Monday afternoon, lottery officials said in Sacramento.

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Peterson said he has not figured out what the couple will do with the windfall. They have no children.

“What will we do? I don’t know,” he said. “We could go to Europe, but we’ve already been there several times. In fact, we spent 6 months in Europe just a few months ago. We could go to the Orient, but we’ve already been several times. We’ll just play it by ear.”

The Petersons live in Huntington Landmark, an exclusive, adults-only community of condos and apartments off Atlanta Avenue, between Magnolia and Newland avenues.

“It’s a very nice place, and we’ve been comfortable here the past 12 years,” he said. “Still . . . you end up looking at the same place. So we might move. I don’t know. And I don’t know where, but it’s something we can think about. I may have to adapt to a new life style. Things like this make you think.”

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Peterson, a native of New York City, spent most of his life in Honolulu. “We lived there about 35 years,” he said. “I had my own (automobile) dealership in Honolulu, and I retired in 1969.”

Asked why he moved from Hawaii to Huntington Beach, Peterson said, “Well, how many times can you drive around the rock? You know, you can only see so much of an island. My wife and I had always wanted to return to the mainland, so we came here.”

They moved into the Huntington Beach home in 1976.

Peterson said he regularly plays Lotto, the biweekly state lottery game that challenges players to pick all six numbers drawn.

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“Sometimes I spend $40 a week playing,” he said. “On Saturday, I had five $5 tickets and a $1 ticket for my wife. The winning numbers came on the fourth $5 ticket.”

His winning numbers were “quick picks,” where the computer instantly picks random numbers.

The winning six Lotto numbers drawn Saturday night were 5, 9, 24, 36 , 41 and 49. The bonus number was 7.

The Petersons have been married for 68 years. “I’m in excellent health, and I say my wife’s health is about 80% good,” he said.

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Asked whether he had told relatives or anyone else about winning, Peterson responded: “Oh, no. We haven’t told anyone. We haven’t told our neighbors. Not anyone.”

The money is given to Lotto winners in 1-year installments over 20 years. Peterson and the Alameda winner of Saturday’s drawing will each net $275,200 a year, after taxes, for the next 20 years.

John Schade, a lottery spokesman, said that in the event a winner dies before the end of 20 years, the remainder can either be willed to someone or remain part of the deceased’s estate.

Peterson said: “I’m no spring chicken. I may sound like I’m 39 years old, but I’m 87.”

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Nonetheless, he said, he gets a big charge out of living. And he said he will definitely be living well from now on, even though the new money may not change his life style all that much.

$34,400 to Ticket Store

The Petersons’ good luck also brought good luck to Larry’s Liquors, 9039 Adams Ave.

Lottery officials said the store will get about $34,400 as its bonus for having sold Peterson his winning ticket.

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Jung Shin, wife of the store’s owner, Moo Shin, said she is thrilled about the win--both for the store and for Peterson.

“He is a nice 87-year-old man,” she said. “He comes to this store all the time, and I’m the one who sold him his winning ticket.”


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