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Columbian hits $200,000 jackpot

Shirley Kowalewski found that she had won Powerball after returning from vacation
Monday, April 16, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:46 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
Shirley Kowalewski stands outside her home with her dog Wylie on Thursday. Kowalewski won a $200,000 Powerball jackpot.

Shirley Kowalewski used to forget to check and see if her lottery tickets were winners. But she doesn’t think she’ll make that mistake again. After waiting two weeks to check the results of her most recent Powerball picks, Kowalewski learned that she had won the $200,000 jackpot.

That day had started out like any other. Having just returned from a spring break vacation in San Antonio with her husband, Tom, and their three teenagers, Kowalewski decided to take an extra day off from her job with the MU biochemistry department to do some laundry and relax.

Around noon, she headed over to Casey’s General Store to get a couple of Diet Cokes, which is a part of her routine. As she approached the store, she noticed a sign in the window saying that a winning Powerball ticket had been sold there. That piqued her interest.

When she returned home, she immediately checked the tickets she had bought before her vacation against the winning numbers online.

“I had three tickets from March, and I usually buy five picks at a time,” Kowalewski said. “I checked every number and none of them were coming up with anything. And then I got to the last pick and saw that it said $200,000.”

She checked and double-checked and triple-checked the numbers. She was convinced that she had typed them incorrectly. She said she even had her daughter check the numbers.

“I was just totally shocked,” Kowalewski said. “I still can’t believe it. It’s so surreal to me.”

She called her husband, Tom, and he rushed home from work at Square D so they could drive down to Jefferson City together to collect the winnings.

After taxes, the Kowalewskis expect to receive a check for $142,000.

They said they plan to use the money wisely — paying off the mortgage on their home, paying off their credit card debt and maybe buying a replacement for Shirley’s 1991 Toyota.

Although Kowalewski, who has lived in Columbia all her life, plays the lottery regularly, she said she had never won more than $10 or enough to buy another ticket.

According to Breanne Gibson, Missouri Lottery Web coordinator, since August 2005, the Missouri Lottery has sold 70 winning $200,000 Powerball tickets.


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