June 4, 2013

Dugger couple wins $1.5 million scratch-off prize

 Cash For Life top prize won in Terre Haute

MentilloINDIANAPOLIS - Retirees Linda and Joe Mentillo of Dugger were on their way to buy deer feed when they stopped at Pimento Sunoco on U.S. Hwy 41 in Terre Haute and purchased a winning Cash For Life scratch-off ticket that ended up being worth $1.5 million.

Linda scratched the ticket and was ecstatic to win what she thought was a $2,500 prize.  The couple was driving down the road when Joe scratched the rest of the prize field and discovered they were looking at significantly more than a $2,500 prize - they had won one of the game's top prizes of $2,500 a week for life.

"We never had a whole lot growing up.  Neither one of us came from anything," said Linda Mentillo. "We've done alright considering where we started, but this is unbelievable."

While they are thrilled with their sudden fortune, the hardworking and frugal couple doesn't plan to do anything crazy with their winnings.  At the top of their wish list is a completely paid-off mortgage. Beyond that, the modest couple has characteristically modest plans for their winnings.

"I'm going to get my lawn mower fixed and I might buy a bike," said Joe who is an avid bicyclist and all-around fitness enthusiast who, at age 68, plans to ride the Hoosier Hilly Hundred this fall.  "All it needs is new gears, but I might buy a new one."

Even if he springs for the whole bike, Mentillo's winnings are more than enough to cover the indulgence, because the Mentillos opted to take the cash option and received a one-time lump sum payment of $1.5 million (before taxes). 

The game offers a top prize of $2,500 a week, every single week for life, but the couple felt the cash option  made the most sense at their age. 

"At my age, I probably shouldn't buy any green bananas," joked Joe Mentillo.

Joe Mentillo is retired from Indiana State University where he worked for 37 years in Information Technology. Linda Mentillo retired five years ago after working 34 years at a bank. 

Mentillo SunocoEven with no mortgage and more than a million bucks in the bank, Joe Mentillo said he is hesitant to quit his part-time job as a janitor at Linton Junior High School.

"I might quit, but not just yet," said Joe. "We've got to reseal the gym floor."

Cash For Life, which gives players the choice between tickets that cost $1, $2, $5 or $10, offers a chance to win top prizes that range from $500 a week for life to $5,000 a week for life.

The mission of the Hoosier Lottery is to maximize net income for the state in a socially-responsible manner. In fiscal year 2012, the Hoosier Lottery generated $211 million in surplus revenue which was used to significantly reduce the motor vehicle excise tax for all Hoosier drivers and also supported the pension funds for retired Indiana teachers, police and firefighters. Player prizes for the fiscal year totaled $533 million and $60 million was earned by Indiana retailers on the sale of Hoosier Lottery products.

Since its inception in 1989, the Hoosier Lottery has produced more than $4.2 billion for the citizens of Indiana, $1 billion in commissions and bonuses for participating Indiana retailers, and has paid out more than $8.9 billion in player prizes.

Must be 18 or older to play.  Gambling Addiction Referral Line: 800-994-8448.  

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For more information, please contact Betsy Gutierrez at bgutierrez@hoosierlottery.com or 317-264-4852 or Al Larsen at alarsen@hoosierlottery.com or 317-242-8803.

Photo: Linda and Joe Mentillo collect their winnings at Pimento Sunoco in Terre Haute June 4.

Photo:  The Mentillos surrounded by family, friends and well-wishers at a check presentation at Pimento Sunoco where they purchased their lucky ticket.

 

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