Couple claiming to be big Powerball winners pick up tab at local tavern

STEAMWOOD, Ill. (AP) — A jubilant retired couple from this northwestern Chicago suburb claimed Thursday they had the winning $195 million Powerball lottery ticket, and were buying drinks for the house at a local tavern.
“If I don’t have the winning ticket, this bartender has a hell of a tab,” said Frank Capaci.
Lottery officials couldn’t confirm that the couple had the single winning ticket, which was purchased in Pell Lake, Wis., but arranged for them to bring it in for verification.
Capaci and his wife, Shirley, were celebrating with friends and relatives at a crowded Bill’s on Bartlett, a tavern and pizza place here.
Asked what he was going to do with the jackpot, Capaci, said, “I don’t know yet. I ain’t never been a millionaire before.”
Wisconsin’s lottery director, Don Walsh, said he telephoned the Capacis at Bill’s after he was contacted by a Chicago television station.
“Basically they hung up on me,” Walsh said. They apparently didn’t believe his identity, he said, but he called back and gave them his home phone number.
Officials hope to make arrangements as soon as possible to have the ticket brought to Wisconsin for validation, he said.
“If the ticket itself does match the information we are getting about it, there is a very strong likelihood that they are the Powerball winners,” said Andrew Bohage, Wisconsin lottery spokesman.
Capaci, a 67-year-old retired electrician, and his 63-year-old wife, have three adult sons and said they plan to share the winnings with the family.
Illinois is not among the 20 states that take part in Powerball. So, two bartenders drove to a Wisconsin grocery store just north of the Illinois border Wednesday and bought several tickets, then passed them out to tavern customers, according to the Capacis’ 31-year-old son, Brian Capaci.
The Capacis paid for their $5 ticket, Brian Capaci said.
Only one ticket had the six winning numbers in Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing, and the lottery computers show it was sold at a grocery store in Pell Lake, a community of 1,300.
Pell Lake is about 20 miles from the Illinois state line, suggesting the ticketholder might have come from out of state.
The winning ticketholder put down $5 to play the lottery and designated on the stub that he or she would prefer an immediate lump sum of $104.3 million instead of $7.7 million a year for 25 years.
The previous biggest jackpot ever won in the United States was $118.8 million in the California lottery in 1991. But that jackpot was split 10 ways.
The previous record Powerball jackpot was also won in Wisconsin. It was worth $111.2 million in 1993 to Fond du Lac schoolteacher Leslie Robbins and Colleen DeVries.