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Cautious Lotto winner claims prize after 3 months

Mon., Aug. 17, 2009, 6:10 p.m.

Yakima man took time to plan retirement

OLYMPIA — A now-retired Yakima restaurant cook has finally claimed a $3.4 million Washington state Lotto jackpot from May 11 after keeping his good fortune a secret for three months. While he planned his retirement, Curtis Eldred told only his mother about his big win — and kept the ticket carefully hidden in a sealed plastic bag under a floor mat in a small storage shed in his back yard.

Lottery officials say Eldred arrived Monday at lottery headquarters in Olympia to claim his prize, leaving with a cash option payout check for $1.24 million.

Eldred kept his secret even as co-workers and customers at the Heritage Restaurant in Toppenish talked about the mysterious winner that they knew was from their area.

Curtis says he will help out family members hit hard by the ailing economy. Then he plans to focus on his artwork and intends to buy a house.

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