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Oklahoma lottery records first million dollar winner

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Laura Ray said she reacted with stunned disbelief when she learned she and her husband had won $1 million, the biggest Oklahoma payout to date in the multistate Powerball lottery game.

Ray couldn't repeat the words her husband, Charles, used when she broke the news to him.

``He got heartburn and I got nauseous,'' Mrs. Ray said Friday as the Foss couple presented their winning Powerball ticket to lottery officials to claim their prize.

The couple, who operate Toot's Baithouse near Foss Lake about 100 miles west of Oklahoma City, matched five numbers in Wednesday's Powerball drawing to win $200,000 and then multiplied it by five by playing the Power Play option for an additional dollar.

The result was the largest single prize in the brief history of the state's lottery, Oklahoma Lottery executive director Jim Scroggins said. The Oklahoma Lottery began its first game in October and Powerball was introduced in the state in January. After state and federal taxes were withheld, the Rays received $710,000.

``It's not like there's so much money that we'll never have to worry,'' Mrs. Ray said. But she said the couple's ``comfort level'' will surely go up.

The couple plans to use some of their winnings to purchase the building that houses their bait shop, said Mrs. Ray, 47. They plan to close the sale on Monday and rename their business Minnow Mart, she said. The bait house is also a lottery retail outlet where the couple bought their ticket.

What will they do with the rest of the money?

``Don't know yet,'' said Ray, 49, who wore a large black cowboy hat and black embroidered western shirt. Ray said he and his wife will invest the rest, but they'll talk to an adviser first.

Mrs. Ray said she did not know she had a winning ticket until a lottery security official appeared at their bait shop and said a major prize-winning ticket had been purchased there. That's when she scanned her tickets and learned she had won.

She later watched a recording of the Powerball drawing. ``Sure enough, there they were _ all five white balls,'' Mrs. Ray said. They missed the jackpot by not matching the Powerball number.

Because no one won the Powerball jackpot on Wednesday, Saturday's drawing will be an estimated $88 million.

Through Wednesday, the state has paid out more than $9.4 million in Powerball prizes since joining the multistate lottery in January, Scroggins said. They include 28 $10,000 winners and 14 $50,000 winners.

The largest previous prize was claimed last month by Pete and Mary Tytenicz of Harrah, who won $800,000.

Profits from the Oklahoma Lottery are used to support public education in the state.
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