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Powerball winners in Missouri planning ‘a pretty good Christmas’

By Glenn E. Rice, The Kansas City Star –

DEARBORN, Mo. — Cindy and Mark Hill graduated from North Platte High School in Dearborn, Mo., a year apart in the late 1970s.

Friday morning, they were back in the school gym, ready to go public as winners of half of a record $588 million Powerball jackpot.

The really big amount on the really big check: $293,750,000. The Hills plan to take a lump sum instead of payments stretched over 29 years. Taxes will take a big bite. But still …

“I think we’re going to have a pretty good Christmas,” said Cindy, 51.

She said Mark, 52, gave her the money to buy tickets before Wednesday night’s drawing. He told her, “Here’s $10. Go buy 10 lottery tickets,” she said.

She had to explain to him that Powerball tickets are $2 each.

There has been speculation in some quarters that the Hills were playing the numbers of favorite Kansas City Royals players: 5 (George Brett), 16 (Bo Jackson), 22 (Dennis Leonard), 23 (Mark Gubicza) and 29 (Dan Quisenberry) with a Powerball of 6 (Willie Wilson).

But Cindy said the combinations on their five tickets were quick-picks by the lottery computer.

Still, she said, “we love the Royals.”

Now they could pretty much buy them. Or at least a new pitching rotation.

She said she and Mark had been setting up meetings “to handle the funds and whatnot.”

She had worked as an office manager but was laid off in June 2010. She took off a year to spend time with their daughter, who started first grade this fall.

Mark worked as a mechanic at Hillshire Brands, a meatpacking company in St. Joseph, Mo.

The two grew up in Dearborn, a town of about 500 roughly halfway between Kansas City and St. Joseph.

They appeared at the news conference with their three grown sons and young daughter, whom they adopted from China five years ago.

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