|For Immediate Release||Contact: Mike Lang 217-524-5158|
FLANAGAN, IL—Dec 6, 2012—Rakesh “Rocky” Patel, manager of Bart’s Supermarket, is a great salesman, and a generous human being. When Powerball fever hit last week, he encouraged everyone who came into the store to purchase a ticket, including Howard “Bob” Baker, an Illinois Department of Agriculture inspector who routinely visits Bart’s to inspect the store’s meat and poultry processing area.
After several promptings from Patel, Baker agreed to purchase a $2 Powerball ticket on Nov 28. But Baker’s wallet was empty, and he had only $1 in change in his pocket. Rocky, however, insisted that Baker get in the drawing, and contributed the other dollar for the Quick Pick purchase. He handed the $2 ticket to Baker, saying, “if we win, we’ll split the prize.”
As fate would have it, the ticket did win—$1 million for matching the first five Powerball numbers—and Rocky and Bob drove to Springfield December 3 to present the ticket to Lottery officials. The two business acquaintances, now friends for life, plan to invest their prize money in a similar way: by investing in college funds for their respective children.
Bob, 60, and his wife, Becky, have two daughters, ages 15 and 11, they adopted after making separate trips to China in the 1990s. The family lives in nearby Minonk. Rocky, 37, and his wife, Rita, live in Flanagan and have two children, 9 and 6, whose future education will benefit from their father’s Lottery windfall.
To celebrate the win, and give something back to his customers, Rocky gave away free $1 Lotto tickets to 212 walk-in customers on Monday, Dec 3. As he did with the winning Powerball ticket he shared with Bob, Rocky initialed each of 212 Lotto tickets he gave away, and told recipients that any jackpot prizes would be shared (non-jackpot prizes would go entirely to the recipient).
In claiming their $1million prize, the two business acquaintances formed the “Bob Rocks” partnership. Both received an oversized check today from Lottery officials inside the supermarket, owned by Rocky’s cousin, which will receive a $10,000 bonus for selling the ticket.
Future plans are bright for both winners. At the end of the year, Bob is retiring from the Illinois Department of Agriculture job he has held for over 26 years. “I already planned to retire at year’s end,” said Bob. “This win will allow us to retire essentially debt-free, and that’s a great feeling.”
Rocky’s future plans include continuing to promote the Lottery at Bart’s Supermarket. “I hope people will see our store as a lucky store,” he said. “I believe it is.”
Sales of Powerball tickets in Illinois during the two-month jackpot run generated nearly $25 million for the state’s Common School Fund. During the run, five Illinois players won $1million match-5# prizes, and over 1 million other Illinois tickets won smaller prizes ranging from $4 to $40,000.
The final jackpot grew to $587.5 million, the second largest jackpot ever. The largest jackpot in Lottery history, $656 million, occurred March 30, 2012, when three players—including Merle Butler from downstate Red Bud—split a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot.
About Illinois LotteryFounded in 1974, the Illinois Lottery has contributed $17.5 billion to the state Common School Fund to assist K-12 public schools, as well as the Capital Projects Fund. Players must be at least 18 years old.