Fresno Powerball winner's wife thought tickets were a waste -- until husband won

The Fresno BeeNovember 6, 2013 

Fresno "Millionaire Made Here" lottery signs are posted around the Chevron station at Shields and Armstrong in Fresno where the winning $213 million Powerball ticket was purchased on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013.

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Erlinda "Lulu" Mitchell thought her husband was wasting money when he'd dash into the Fast 'N Easy store in east-central Fresno twice a week to buy lottery tickets.

On Wednesday, standing in their backyard with a huge $213 million Powerball check at her feet, Erlinda Mitchell, 66, had a different view: "I'm glad he didn't listen to me."

Her husband, Carlo Mitchell, 68, a retired nuclear medicine technician from Saint Agnes Medical Center, was confirmed this week as California's first winner of a Powerball jackpot.

"This could be a blessing or it could be a curse," he said. "You don't know at this point; we'll find out."

After canceling a news conference Monday in Sacramento, where he verified the winning ticket, the couple held an impromptu news conference in the backyard of their east-central home on Wednesday. They asked that the media not show their faces.

"I needed to get a basis to what I was going to do with that kind of money," Carlo said. "It takes time."

After the Oct. 23 drawing, a friend called Carlo informing him the winning ticket had been purchased at the Fast 'N Easy store where he always goes on Shields and Armstrong avenues. But he didn't think much of it until he was at a hospital waiting for an X-ray when the Powerball results came on TV.

"I had a pretty good suspicion, but I didn't say anything" to his wife, Carlo said. "I just kept saying anything is possible."

His intuition was right. Carlo became the only Powerball winner who got all six numbers right: 03-23-31-34-47 and 13 as the bonus number. In a lump sum, the ticket is worth $123.4 million after taxes.

Erlinda, a retired registered nurse at Clovis Community Medical Center, said she told her husband about a month ago that she was thinking of going back to work.

"Now I don't think I'm going back, not even as part-time," she chuckled.

The couple said they have always enjoyed a simple lifestyle and want to do everything possible to keep it that way. They insisted that no photos be taken of them during Wednesday's news conference. And they said they have no plans to move to a bigger house or leave Fresno, calling it their home.

"Hopefully they won't chase us away; that's our biggest fear because we don't want to leave," Carlo said.

The Mitchells said they have no specific plans on what to spend their $123.4 million winnings on but will spread the wealth to their church, close family and friends. They may buy a "couple" of vacation homes, one near a lake, and travel spontaneously.

Winning the lottery is more than just the money, it's more about defying the odds, Carlo Mitchell said. Despite now having millions, he said he will continue to play and choose the same numbers at the same Fast 'N Easy store close to his home. He hopes to win again.

"Hey," he said, "if I can set a new record, why not?"

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659, daguilera@fresnobee.com or @DianaT_Aguilera on Twitter.

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