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Christmas Bonus Idaho Couple Wins $48 Million Lottery Jackpot

Mark Warbis Associated Press

A chauffeur and a supermarket worker from Hailey, Idaho, both say they want to keep working after winning the $48.3 million Powerball jackpot on Christmas Day.

Hugh Robinson, 55, and his wife, Janice, 56 - who live in the Sun Valley resort area where film stars such as Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Dreyfus have homes - picked up their first of 20 annual checks for more than $1.74 million on Thursday.

Hugh Robinson has transported plenty of rich and famous people in his job driving a limousine for the Sun Valley Co.

“Never thought I would be in the class, though,” he said.

“Yeah, we’re just plain, ordinary common folks,” his wife added.

The Robinsons bought a $5 “quick pick” Powerball ticket on Christmas Eve at Carroll’s Travel Plaza, a south-central Idaho truck stop near Arco. They were returning home from a shopping trip to Idaho Falls, and Hugh Robinson picked up the ticket as a gift for his wife, who usually is the one who plays Powerball.

She regularly buys tickets at Atkinson’s Market in Ketchum, where she works as a customer service representative.

“I’ve got my tickets. They’re in the drawer at work,” Janice Robinson said. “In fact, two of my numbers came up this time.”

Played in 20 states and the District of Columbia, Powerball is a game in which players pick five numbers from 1 to 45 and another Powerball number from 1 to 45. The jackpot, which starts at $5 million and accumulates with each drawing, is won when all five numbers and the Powerball are matched. The chances of that are 1 in 55 million.

Eleven Idaho players have become millionaires since the game started in 1992. Pam Hiatt of Boise got the fifth-largest jackpot nationally when she won $87.3 million in 1995. Overall, Idaho players have won more than $175.4 million while sales of Powerball tickets in Idaho have totaled only $83.5 million.

The Robinsons’ jackpot works out to about $4,779 a day, or $203 an hour.

They said they have no plans yet for their newfound wealth beyond maybe paying off the home they bought in 1995 and contributing to the Make a Wish program. That charity for terminally ill children is the beneficiary of fund-raising efforts by the motorcycle touring group to which the Robinsons belong, the Twin Falls chapter of the Gold Wing Riding Club.

“We haven’t ever had this much money, so we will have to think about it and consider various investment opportunities,” Robinson said.

Janice Robinson said she phoned her husband from work when she found out she had the winning ticket, and was panting with excitement.

“I thought I was getting an obscene phone call,” he said.

But both plan to return to work on Saturday.

“We’ve talked to both of our employers, and right now we owe them an obligation because they have been very good to us,” Janice Robinson said. “We work for good companies. We feel like we don’t have jobs because they are so wonderful to us. And until we get our feet on the ground that’s what we are going to do, unless it becomes a real problem, and then we’ll both leave our jobs.”

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