A week ago, Thomas and Kathleen Morris were wondering if they would have enough money to retire.
“I said to Tom, “The only way we can retire is if we win the lottery,” Kathleen told reporters. “It only takes one (ticket to win) and it was our turn this time.”
Wednesday, an uncanny stroke of fate decided the matter for them: The Burnsville couple hit the jackpot, winning $229 million in the largest Powerball win in Minnesota history.
Thomas Morris normally buys three Powerball tickets in a single purchase, but on Aug. 10 he had a $5 bill he didn't want to break. On a whim, he bought five tickets for that night’s drawing at a Super America in Lakeville.
“It wasn’t my normal pattern,” the Burnsville resident said. As the clerk handed him the ticket, Morris told him, “You don’t need to sell any more tickets — I have the winning one.” Morris “folded it [the ticket], put it in my pocket and forgot about it.”
He then drove to Indiana for a job assignment. The next evening Morris’ wife Kathleen was busy at home when she heard the winning Powerball numbers announced on the TV: 11-18-36-41-46, with a Powerball number of 38.
“I thought, ‘We wouldn’t have played those numbers; they have no significance to us,” Kathleen recalled.
As the Morris’ were watching the evening news on Aug. 11, they heard that the winning Powerball ticket was sold in Dakota County. Kathleen said to Thomas, “It’s too bad we didn’t have a ticket.” Thomas told her that he did buy some. They checked the tickets together and found they had the winning one worth $228.9 million.
Thomas said in a press conference Friday afternoon that he is an engineer. Kathleen said her degree was in interior design, and the couple has enjoyed building their homes.
“I imagine we’re going to build another one,” Kathleen said.
However, Tom said he plans to retire next week while his wife said she is likely stop dabbling in a small coffee business.
The couple's neighbors were floored by the revelation. Alyce Wright, who lives two doors down from the couple, was awestruck when she heard the news.
"It's just amazing. That's a blessing," Wright said. "That's all you can say."
The couple’s friends say it couldn’t have happened to a nicer couple, said a Powerball spokesperson at the conference.
To top it off, the couple had their first grandchild born last week, “It’s been a wonderful month,” said Kathleen.
Thomas Morris said, “It feels great,” when asked about winning the lottery. “I still don’t believe it.”
When asked how they will spend their lottery winnings, Tom said he intends, among other things, to help his 86-year-old mother. Meanwhile, Kathleen said the couple has some issues that are close to their hearts, but she didn’t identify any of them.
When asked whether their lottery winnings could adversely affect them, Kathleen said, “I think we will do fine. We will live the way we have before but just a little higher.”
The couple said winning the lottery is a big change from the early days of their 38-year marriage when they struggled to make ends meet and once had their checking account down to about $2.
The SuperAmerica at 16161 Cedar Ave. in Lakeville that sold the winning ticket will get a $50,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.
The couple said they weren’t sure if they would take the lump sum or if they would accept the annuity payment option. According to a release from the Minnesota State Lottery, the couple has 60 days to choose the annuity payment of $228.9 million or the cash option of $123.6 million ($83.7 million after tax withholding).
Over the years, Minnesota has been home to 21 jackpot-winning tickets since the game began in 1992.