2 big winners come to fore, feel like $1m

MILFORD – The New Hampshire Lottery Commission provided a sizeable boost to the Souhegan Valley economy Tuesday when two residents cashed in scratch tickets worth $1 million.

Milford High School teacher John Kasparek, 42, of Brookline, took a lump sum cash payment of $650,000 before taxes after a “NH Millionaire’s Club” ticket he bought at Caryn’s Country Store on Route 13 in Brookline turned out to be one of two $1 million instant winners.

Only hours before Kasparek came forward, Lyndeborough resident James Buchanan turned in the last $1 million winner from the “Million Dollar Riches” game. That ticket was sold at a Silva Mart Meat Shoppe in Milford, according to the commission.

“Definitely a big day on the last day of the fiscal year here at the lottery,” said lottery spokeswoman Maura McCann.

Kasparek was the so-called “missing millionaire” lottery officials have been hoping for in recent weeks as they pulled the remaining tickets from store shelves.

The first winners, George and Marlene Muncy, of Amherst, claimed the other $1 million instant prize in 2007.

Kasparek told lottery officials he turned in his ticket Tuesday because he knew a new 10 percent tax on lottery winnings goes into effect today. He said he planned to use the money to pay some bills and take a vacation.

Kasparek did not return calls from The Telegraph seeking comment. Buchanan also was not available for comment.

McCann, who has worked at the lottery for more than 20 years, did not have exact records but does not think two such valuable prizes had been claimed on the same day before.

“I’ve never had that happen. It’s quite unusual to have two, one in the morning and one in the afternoon,” she said.

Kasparek’s win came at the perfect time. The game was launched two years ago, 97 percent of the tickets had been sold, and the tickets were being pulled from store shelves. Lottery officials were worried the second $1 million winner would not be found.It is difficult to calculate the exact odds remaining when Kasparek bought his ticket, because those odds kept improving as more tickets were sold without the second winner being found.

At the time Kasparek bought his ticket, roughly 97 percent of the 2.1 million tickets had already been sold, according to lottery officials, leaving roughly 60,000 on the shelves.

As a result, each ticket purchased in recent weeks had a roughly 1-in-60,000 chance of being the second winner.

Now that both instant winners have been found, a third person will be awarded $1 million through a drawing. McCann said 200,000 of the NH Millionaire’s Club tickets had a star on them. Those tickets that were then mailed to the lottery are entered into the drawing for the third $1 million prize, she said.

Staff writer David Brooks contributed to this story.
Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com.