September 19, 2019

Megabucks winners collect near-record $10 million jackpot

AUGUSTA — Two couples from opposite ends of Maine’s coast were in the capital Monday to pick up their first installments of a near-record $10 million Tri-State Megabucks jackpot.

Frances and Dexter Shepard arrived at state lottery headquarters in a silver, chauffeur-driven limousine, bringing three of their four children and one grandchild along to watch them receive their first check.

Shepard, a police detective in Wells, said it’s not easy to figure out how to spend $5 million.

“For 32 years we’ve been managing our pennies — what do you do?” he said. “I’ve got to be honest. … I was relieved when they said there was another winner.”

Joan and Sam Thompson of Calais were also a little vague on what they plan to do with their half of the $10 million, the second-largest jackpot in the Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont game. Each couple will receive $250,000 a year, minus taxes, over the next 20 years.

“I’m still numb,” said Thompson, a retired Georgia Pacific Corp. employee who now sells cars. “I don’t know what I’ll do yet.”

His wife, a retired teacher, said they’ll landscape and fix up their home and help one of their five children, Larry, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Maine, go to medical school.

Other than that, a trip to the West Coast and perhaps a cruise to Alaska may be in the cards, said Mrs. Thompson.

Shepard may have to deliver on a promise he had made to his wife to build a new home if he ever struck it rich. Looking ahead to his approaching retirement from the police force, Shepard said he may “make a nice smooth exit” a bit early.

Shepard said that during a town meeting he attended Saturday, there was discussion of cutting back public employees’ salaries.

“That night, I said, `I know where you can cut one salary,”‘ he said.

Both couples were watching the drawing on television when the winning numbers — 2, 4, 19, 30, 34 and 38 — were chosen Saturday night.

“We were watching the tail end of Hee-Haw” when the drawing came up, said Mrs. Thompson, who used her children’s ages and variations of them for her lucky numbers. “He said I hopped out of my chair. … I was going around and around the table.”

Mrs. Shepard’s reaction was a little more subdued.

“I lost my voice — I thought I was dying,” said Mrs. Shepard, whose numbers were computer-drawn.

The Tri-State Megabucks game had gone without a winning drawing for six weeks before the two couples hit the jackpot Saturday.

The highest jackpot, $16.4 million, was shared by Maine and Vermont winners in February, megabucks spokesman Dave Long said.

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