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Maine Couple Wins Powerball

Aired August 28, 2001 - 12:00   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is 12:00 noon in Saco, Maine. That is where Pat and Irwin Wales are accepting more than $40 million in Powerball winnings. They are one of 4 winners that won big in this week's drawing. They are trying to deal with all this fame. They've hired a lawyer. That's who speaking at the news conference right now.

Meanwhile, they've disconnected their phone. They've been staying away from their home in Buxton, Maine. They are here though today to discuss their winnings. They figure if they talk to the world about their big cash prize, that maybe the rest of us will then leave them alone.

Let's listen into Pat and Irwin Wales, brand new multi- millionaires.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to need the mike, oh, there's the mike. OK.

QUESTION: Pat, can we start by just hearing from you of the moments leading up to when you realized that you were the winner?

PAT WALES, POWERBALL WINNER: Well, my husband had gone to bed around 10:00. And I said, you're not going to stay up to watch the numbers; and, no, you can do it because we're not going to win anyway.

So, I stayed up and I put CNN on. The numbers came down, so I wrote them down on a little piece of paper. And we had put the ticket in our cupboard in the kitchen. I went out and got them. I thought, well I'll look, first of all, for the powerball number, because if I don't have that we're out of it anyway. I found one that had 21 on the powerball. So my heart kind of picked up a little bit.

And then I started looking at the rest of the numbers. There was an 8, there was a 17, there was a 22, 42, 47, and I just like shaking and started crying. And went in and tried to wake him up.

I said, Irwin, I think we've won Powerball. And he says, yah, and turns over and goes back to sleep.


So, I went out and I thought, well maybe I've made a mistake. Maybe I wrote the numbers down wrong or something. So, I checked the numbers again. This time I went and I said, Irwin, get out of bed, we've just won Powerball, and I mean it.

So, he gets up and he comes out, and I said, please verify these numbers for me. So, I gave him the ticket, he verified them against TV. And he said, we have won. And it's just been pandemonium since. A wonderful pandemonium, but pandemonium.

QUESTION: What are you going to do with the money?

P. WALES: We have no immediate plans. We're going to just take our time and get some advice on what we need to do. Irwin wants a new truck, which I think will happen fairly soon. And I'm contemplating a new vehicle, but I haven't decided if I'm actually going to do that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) how he sleeps through these things?

P. WALES: How do you sleep through these things?

ERWIN WALES, POWERBALL WINNER: Well, I haven't slept yet.


L. WALES: I hope tonight I will get some sleep. I'll see after this.

QUESTION: What's your reaction to this, and what kind of truck are you going to get?

L. WALES: I'm going to get a GMC, short bed, with all the toys.


Black, I hope.

QUESTION: You had a lucky day that day, at least that's what we heard from Terry. Tell us a little bit about that.

P. WALES: Yes, I had gone to a little store near our home and bought $10 worth of instant scratch tickets, and I won $20 on that. Later on that afternoon I thought, oh I haven't got mega bucks yet. I'd better go do that. So we won $5 on the mega bucks. And I said to Erwin, we'll we're just working our way up to the Powerball. Kidding around. And I never, never dreamed that it would really happen.

QUESTION: After you called your husband, who was the first people you told the next day? And how did they react?

P. WALES: We actually kept it very quiet. There were only two people that we told. And we were very nervous about keeping that ticket. So we didn't want to -- it was hard not to be able to tell people, because that's your first instinct. You just want everyone to know what's happened. It was difficult not telling anyone.

QUESTION: Can you tell us your Sunday breakfast story, too? P. WALES: On Sunday morning, we usually take my mother to church. So we got ready to go, and we normally stop at a little restaurant to have breakfast. This Sunday morning we stopped, we went in, we were sitting there, and the waitresses and another table are saying, oh, I can't imagine how it must feel to win Powerball. There were four winners you know. And I leaned over to Erwin and I said, oh, if only they knew they were looking at us.

It was strange to know that they were speaking about us. And it's like a dream. A dream come true.

QUESTION: Do you plan to still live in Buxton, or do you have any plans to travel anywhere?

P. WALES: No. I think we're pretty much going to stay in Buxton, and may do some traveling in this country, but we have no plans to go anywhere else.

QUESTION: Is it true you can play 18 bingo cards at once? I want to know how you do that.

P. WALES: It's pretty easy to do. You have that little dabber thing. You just do it pretty quickly.

QUESTION: Are you going to still play Bingo or Powerball?

P. WALES: No more Powerball, but I will play Bingo probably. I'd like to see some other people win.

QUESTION: Why no more Powerball?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) something that you want. Is there anything that you want in your heart, that you know?

P. WALES: Maybe just a new car. Maybe. Maybe a place on the lake would be nice to have for the summers. So, we're thinking about that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) down at Lincoln Financial Group you said -- we heard you took an indefinite leave of absence.

P. WALES: The actual thing is I'm on a two-week vacation right now. I told them I'd be in touch with them within that two weeks. I think they pretty much know the outcome, but...


QUESTION: Erwin, we heard you like NASCAR. Planning some trips around the country?

E. WALES: Yes, I am. I'm going to do it as soon as possible. That's what I want to do. Go to Dover Downs, and Daytona and a few of the big tracks. I enjoy racing.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) deciding how to spend all of that money?

E. WALES: I don't know. It's really scary.

QUESTION: Any favorite charities?

P. WALES: We haven't thought about that yet. I mean, we definitely would like to donate to some charities, but we haven't decided on any one in particular.

QUESTION: You said you hoped your lives will get back to normal. Is that going to be possible, do you think?

P. WALES: I hope so. I mean, I know it's changed forever, but we're still Pat and Erwin, the same people we were before we won all this. Just hope that all of our friends and neighbors will just look at us as Pat and Erwin has got a little bit more money now.

QUESTION: What's the reaction from the family?

P. WALES: Unbelief, disbelief, we just still don't -- I don't think they've comprehended what's happened. It's just mind boggling.

QUESTION: Sounds like you're a regular player of the game all the time, anyway, are you?

P. WALES: Yes, I used to go Dover quite a bit to play Bingo at the Dover Bingo Center. I would stop at Cumberland Farms to pick up some tickets on the way home. Usually every time that I win, I'd stop and buy some Powerball.

QUESTION: Had it gotten to the point where you, obviously hadn't given up, (OFF-MIKE) the chance, but every time you bought a ticket were you thinking about a moment like this, or had it just become kind of a rogue practice?

P. WALES: Yes, I was just, oh, I'll stop and buy them. You never know, if you don't buy one you can't win. So, that's what we did.

QUESTION: Was there anytime that you thought I'm not buying it.



P. WALES: I guess I'm a little bit of gambler.


P. WALES: I think.

QUESTION: What's the most you've won before this?

P. WALES: $4,000 at Bingo.

QUESTION: Will you be helping your children, your grandchildren?

P. WALES: Definitely. That's what it is all about. QUESTION: In what ways might you be helping out your family? Give some examples, generally.

P. WALES: Well, we'll just be helping them out money-wise. I mean we are a very close family, we're a very happy family. We were happy before we ever had this money, and we'll continue to be that way after.

QUESTION: Erwin said the thought of spending all that money is scary. There are a lot of people who are envious of you, but I'm sure there's a little bit of a downside with this. Are you intimidated by all of the attention on you right now?

P. WALES: Yes, that's a difficult part to deal with. There's so much attention, and every time you turn the television you're the lead story. I said, their must be more going on in the world than this. But, I am sure it will subside in a while.

But, it's a wonderful feeling.

QUESTION: You know, everybody dreams of winning the lottery. We do these stories that everybody fantasizes about what it would be like if they won.

Is it the way you imagined it would be?

P. WALES: No. I never thought there'd be so much stress involved in it. You know you think, oh this is just going to be wonderful. I've got all this money. I can pay my bills, I can pay off my house. But, when you win that large of a sum, there are so many things that you have to take into consideration. It is very stressful.

QUESTION: Can you name some of those things? What are some of your worries or fears in regards to...?

P. WALES: I know there are, you know -- most people are pretty honest and forthright, but there are people who try to take advantage of you. And -- but we have a great team working with us. To help us control this money. And so we feel confident that we are doing the right thing.

QUESTION: Have you talked to the folks at the store in Rollinsford?

P. WALES: No. No we haven't. No, not yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE) one more question.


P. WALES: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Have you gotten to know them?

P. WALES: No. We will go back some time, but I'm not sure when. QUESTION: Tell us about what you do, and Erwin, what you do to make a living.

P. WALES: I work at Lincoln Financial Group at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) city center in Portland, Maine. My title there is a disbursement specialist, where I send money to other people. So, it's kind of nice to have that reversed and somebody's giving me some money. I don't send $41 million, though, I will tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we have time for probably two more questions.

QUESTION: Erwin what do you? If you could finish that.

E. WALES: I'm retired. I worked two or three jobs. I work at the Featured speedway, and Reynolds Honda Sport, and I mow a lot of lawns around (UNINTELLIGIBLE), just to keep myself occupied.

QUESTION: Are you going to keep working at Reynolds, and mowing lawns (OFF-MIKE) ?

E. WALES: I'm going to keep just one, mowing lawns.

QUESTION: Mowing lawns. What about the speedway, you like that?

E. WALES: Yes, but I'm going to retire from there, too.

TERRY GARMEY, ATTORNEY: I think -- I want to thank you all again for being so considerate. They are really, as you can tell, wonderful people and people I think we can all root for.

I forget to thank Rick and Dick Campbell, and all of the people at the Maine Lottery -- the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. By God, you can't get it out of you once you start. All the people in New Hampshire who have been just really helpful, who have guided us and given us wonder and sage advice, and Mark Robinson who's helped us deal with you folks.

Thank you all very, very much. And thank you for being so considerate.

KAGAN: So there you have it. You just met two of the newest multimillionaires in America, Pat and Erwin Wales, they are from Buxton, Maine, taking home just over $41 million dollars, their share of Saturday's giant Powerball jackpot.

Mrs. Wales showing a little bit of irony there. She works for a bank in Maine and she's a what she calls a disbursement specialist. It's her job to give money to other people. Well, now she's got a big truck load of money coming to her.

She shared with us that she learned about the numbers on Saturday night, tuning right in here to CNN to learn the numbers. Went to wake up her husband. He didn't seem too excited until he realized exactly what was going on.

They don't have huge plans, except Erwin wants a new truck. I think it's on the way.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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