Wednesday, May 19, 2004

25 hit the big one: $12.6M Lotto ticket



By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HEBRON - Steve Gies just strolled onto the 14th green of A.J. Jolly Golf Course when his co-worker and golfing buddy's mobile phone rang.

WINNERS
Twenty-six employees of Wild Flavors will share $12.6 million. Two employees will split a share.
Darren Shuman, Dillsboro, Ind.
Robert Taylor, Cincinnati
Steve Gies, Newport
Ronald King, Blanchester
John Bechtel, Cincinnati
David Roberts, Erlanger
Robert Seitz, Cincinnati
Bobby Joe Hudler, Addyston
Joseph Gribbons Sr., Cincinnati
Vernell Elliott, Cincinnati
Kenneth McNeal, Cincinnati
Samuel Davis, Fort Mitchell
Pedro Alicea, Cincinnati
Linda Mann, Burlington
Bob Woods, Florence
Lonnie Rucker, Cincinnati
Stephen Kohl, Fairfield
William Smith, Butler
Thomas Stanko, Mason
Donald Hicks, Cincinnati
Jerry Siereveld, Southgate
William Singleton, Cincinnati
Danny Niece, Florence
Samuel Monds, Warsaw
Johnny Copeland, Cincinnati
Clifton Kerr, Cincinnati
Gies' heart raced as he overheard key words of the conversation: Lottery. Office pool. Winners.

He turned to his golfing buddy and interrupted: "You know I'm a part of that pool."

Gies was more than a part. The 37-year-old was the one who had the winning ticket.

"I had $12.6 million sitting on my counter," said Gies, a Newport resident.

He was one of 25 employees at Wild Flavors Inc. in Erlanger who won Saturday's $12.6 million Lotto South jackpot.

After deciding to take the one-time lump sum, subtracting taxes and splitting it 25 ways, each will receive $177,791.40.

Gies, who turned in the ticket Tuesday afternoon at lottery headquarters in Louisville, said his winnings will be even less. He is splitting his spare with a 26th person.

"It's not a giant windfall that allows you to go hog-crazy," Gies said. "You can't retire and sleep all day, but it is a big chunk of change."

The group consists of workers from all over the plant, from research and development to sanitation.

Each pitched in $10 a week to buy lottery tickets. They purchased the winning ticket at Save On Cigs at 670 W. Third St. in Covington.

After hearing the news on Sunday, Gies didn't stop golfing. He parred the next two holes with his store-bought clubs. "I started playing a lot better golf for a few holes," he said. "Then I came back to reality and started shanking again."

The weekend duffer shot a 99 on the 18-hole public course south of Alexandria in Campbell County.

Gies hid the winning ticket once he got home, but some of his co-workers wanted to see the actual ticket.

"I took it into work (Monday) morning, and people couldn't believe it was there," said Gies, who mixes the flavoring that goes into Bush's baked beans for a living. "We then got nervous that we had a piece of paper worth millions of dollars in our hands, so we took it to the company president's office and locked it in his safe."

The bachelor's big plans for his share of the fortune: a set of custom golf clubs.

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com




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