When Jim Grafrath, Marthasville, bought a lottery ticket he had no idea he would start off the year as a wealthy man.
Grafrath, who said he doesn’t normally buy Lotto tickets, bought five Quick Picks at the Infield Sports Bar and Grill for the $2.3 million Jan. 2 drawing.
He and his wife Patty couldn’t believe they had actually won.
“I thought, ‘It can’t be true,’ ” he said. “I had my wife verify it. The odds were something like 1 in 3,500,000.”
Lottery winnings can either be distributed over a period of years or the winner can opt for one payment of a lesser value than the jackpot. Grafrath said he’s going to take the lump sum option, which he said will be about $900,000 after taxes.
So what is Grafrath going to do with his new windfall?
“I’m going to buy a new truck, a boat, pay off my house and make a few home improvements,” he said. “I’ve got six kids and 10 grandkids and all of them are going to benefit as well. I’m also looking at some lake property.”
Patty Grafrath said she’s going to spend some of the money as well.
“I’m going to take a trip to California to see my brother and sister,” she said. “I haven’t seen them in eight years.”
Grafrath, who retired eight years ago from AT&T in St. Louis, took his time going public with news of the big win.
The Grafraths waited about eight days before they came forward. In the meantime, the town of Marthasville was abuzz with speculation on who the winner could be.
Somehow, Infield regular Dale Diermann’s name got thrown into a rumor mill that he had won the jackpot.
Diermann emphatically denied he was the new millionaire, but people didn’t believe him and he said his life was pretty chaotic for the next several days.
“About 3 o’clock (the day after the drawing) my phone started ringing,” Diermann said. “People were calling and texting, congratulating me. I go, ‘What is going on?’ It’s all over Facebook that I won the lottery. It was kind of funny at first.”
But Diermann said after a while it got frustrating.
“People I haven’t heard from in 25 years were showing up at my door,” he said. “I finally had to lock my gate. One guy even tried to sell me a new combine.”
Diermann even went so far as to have Infield bar owner Bob Hase pin his losing ticket up behind the bar for all to see, hoping that would dry up the rumor mill. But his life didn’t return to normal until the Grafraths came forward to claim their prize.
Diermann, who said he was happy for the Grafraths’ good fortune, seemed to be a pretty good sport about the whole thing.
“He (Grafrath) bought me a drink so we’re cool,” he said.