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In the Money : Oak Park Man Is County’s Biggest Lotto Winner

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The first lottery ticket Lawrence Fiore ever bought cost a dollar and brought him $29 in winnings.

Several years and hundreds of tries later, the Oak Park resident cashed in his second winning ticket--for $19.8 million. It is the biggest take in Ventura County history.

Pulling up in a white, gold-trimmed stretch limo at the California Lottery’s Ventura District Office on Friday afternoon, Fiore claimed his prize.

“When I saw those winning numbers, it was the most unusual feeling,” said the 38-year-old Fiore. “I got a little weak.”

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Fiore, who is single and has a 15-year-old daughter in Simi Valley, will receive his first check for $736,560 within six weeks, said lottery district manager Stephen Freund. After that, he’ll get annual checks in the same amount for 20 years.

“My first plans are to take care of my family,” Fiore said. He said he will use part of the money to allow his parents to retire from Fiore Auto Detail and Window Tinting, the family’s Los Angeles business where he also worked.

What will Fiore’s fortune buy them? “Whatever they want,” Fiore said. “But all their lives they worked hard for everything they got, so it’s going to be hard to get them to take something they didn’t work for.”

Fiore’s older brother, Louis, an accountant, will help him manage his new wealth. “I’m the second-luckiest man alive,” Louis Fiore said. Lawrence Fiore will also provide for his younger brother, Charles, his sister, Angela, and of course, his daughter.

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“My daughter’s dream is a ’66 red Mustang,” Fiore said. “But first we have to deal with the driver’s license.”

As for himself, Fiore said he has no plans for extravagant purchases. He has stopped working but eventually will be “looking into new options” for employment.

“Right now, I just want to relax and think about things,” he said.

Fiore bought the lucky Super Lotto ticket Wednesday at the information booth at The Oaks mall in Thousand Oaks.

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“I needed new soles for my lucky boots,” Fiore explained, pointing to the well-worn brown cowboy boots we was wearing with black jeans and a black leather jacket. “They said it would take a couple hours, so I decided to kill some time and buy a ticket.”

Feeling lucky, Fiore plunked down $5, the most he’s ever spent on a ticket. “I was short on money,” he explained. “I figured I’d go for it.”

Fiore’s winning numbers--5, 13, 24, 34, 42 and 45--were announced that night.

But it wasn’t until Thursday afternoon while waiting in the drive-through at a fast food restaurant that Fiore checked the newspaper and discovered he had hit the jackpot.

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“As I drove up to the counter I realized I had won,” Fiore said. “I looked at the cashier and he said, ‘That will be $5.32.’ I said, ‘I don’t believe it. I just won the lottery.’ And he said, ‘Congratulations. That will be $5.32.’ Of course, I didn’t eat.”

Fiore said he didn’t get much sleep, either. “I’m pretty wiped out,” he said as he headed back to the limousine where his family sat waiting to continue celebrating the new millionaire’s winnings. A big party was planned for Friday night.

But soon the festivities will be over, and Fiore said he expects his life to return to normal. “I’m not planning anything drastic,” he said.

The biggest change in his daily routine? “I’m not going to buy any more lottery tickets,” he said. “I fulfilled the goal, and I’m satisfied. Why want more?”

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