Larry and Mary Baldwin, both 61-year-old Cummins retirees and Columbus natives, have been using the quick-pick method to choose Powerball numbers for years. The best they had ever done was get three correct numbers.
A long string of bad luck was about to change at 4 p.m. Sept. 10, however, when Larry Baldwin stopped at a convenience store and purchased a Polar Pop icy treat and a Powerball ticket.
A day later, the Baldwins became $1 million Hoosier Lottery winners for getting five numbers correct in the Sept. 11 Powerball drawing. They only missed getting the correct Powerball number itself, or else they would have won a $245 million grand prize.
The Baldwins — who have five adult children and five grandchildren — aren’t complaining. Instead, they are planning a delayed wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii with two friends for next year. They said they will bide their time before making any other big financial decisions.
“We plan to take a year to figure it out,” Larry Baldwin said.
On Tuesday, Hoosier Lottery officials made the Baldwins’ identities known to the public at a news conference, when the couple basked in media attention while holding an enlarged $1 million check. The lottery’s Powerball mascot, a red-clad character wearing a top hat and big red shoes, mugged for the cameras nearby.
“I don’t mind missing the big one. It’s not every day you win $1 million,” Mary Baldwin said.
After taxes, the Baldwins’ haul should come in between $650,000 and $725,000, officials said. Before paying out the winnings, though, lottery officials are required to withhold 25 percent for potential federal income taxes and 3.4 percent for the state of Indiana.
Larry Baldwin, who has continued to work for Cummins contractor Delphi after his initial retirement, said it took a while for him to realize he was walking around a richer man. He didn’t check the winning numbers online until last Thursday, a day after the 10:59 p.m., Sept. 11 prize drawing.
“I had gone to lunch with my wife, and I dropped her off,” he said. “I looked at my computer, saw the numbers and immediately called my wife on the phone. I was really shocked.”
“At first I didn’t believe him,” said Mary Baldwin, who has been married to Larry for 32 years. “But he checked and I checked. Then, we double-checked.”
Larry Baldwin said he stops four times a week after work to buy Powerball or Mega Millions game tickets, usually at the Circle K store at 1720 N. National Road, where he hit it big this time. The Hoosier Lottery machine spit out these numbers: 11, 19, 33, 42, 52 and 33 for Powerball. The first five numbers were the winners.
The Baldwins said they kept their good fortune under their hats for a while, telling only their best friends, Ken and Peggy Huckaby, the first day.
“We told our kids on Friday,” Larry Baldwin said.
Ken Huckaby said he was on edge when his best friend since fifth-grade days called him and said: “I really need to talk.”
“I was really kind of scared. At first, you think of all the bad things it could be ... illness. But when Larry and Mary came by the house around 6:30 p.m. last Thursday, they had big smiles on their faces,” Huckaby said.
The Baldwins broke the
$1 million news, and “we just sat there for a while, nobody saying anything,” Huckaby said. “I’d rather see Larry win this than anybody else in the world other than my wife and I. I told him our friendship won’t change because of this.”
Huckaby said the Baldwins are level-headed when it comes to money, and he expects them to be good shepherds of the cash. Larry Baldwin said he plans to continue working and so will his wife, who has worked in accounting for another manufacturing company the past five years after retiring from a human resources job at Cummins a decade ago.
“I worry about younger people playing the lottery, though,” Huckaby added. “I hear some people say they’re going to quit their job after they win. But this isn’t enough money to sustain someone for the rest of their lives.”
The odds of winning are also pretty steep. The Baldwins overcame 5.1 million-to-one odds to win their million bucks.
Mary Baldwin said one of her few regrets is that her father, Harrison Bradley, died at the age of 85 two years ago and didn’t see her good fortune.
“When I was a kid, he did the punch cards and pull tabs to win prizes,” she said. “He would have loved this.”
Huckaby said he and his wife travel on vacation at least once a year with the Baldwins, usually planning trips well in advance. They hope to make the Hawaii trip with the lottery winners next year.
Also on tap is a long-planned November trip with the Baldwins to Las Vegas.
“But that won’t be a problem; we’re not big gamblers. We’re staying at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. We’ll walk around and see shows,” Ken Huckaby said.
For his part, Larry Baldwin said Tuesday morning that he plans to test whether his lucky streak is still alive. He said he’d head back to the same National Road Circle K late Tuesday afternoon to buy a Powerball ticket for tonight’s drawing with an estimated $400 million jackpot on the table.
“I’m going to try to buy the ticket at the same time I did last week,” he said, “right around 4 p.m.”