A St. Louis man has gone from planting palm trees in the St. Louis area to looking for vacation property at the Lake of the Ozarks after he uncovered a $200,000-a-year-for-life top prize in the Missouri Lottery’s Scratchers game by the same name. Jeff Hedtkamp, 46, said he has already retired from his job as a union decorator for Walter Knoll Florist, at which he did a variety of work including planting the palm trees at Six Flags in Eureka.
“I retired two days after I bought the ticket,” Hedtkamp explained. “My boss was very gracious.”
Hedtkamp purchased his winning ticket in early March, when he stopped at QuikTrip, 6900 Gravois in St. Louis, to buy cigarettes, a hot dog and a Pepsi. He only bought one Lottery ticket.
Hedtkamp put the ticket on the seat of his car, and he didn’t scratch it until later that day, when he was relaxing at his wife’s grandmother’s house.
“I went up and showed it to my step-son, and he thought it was a joke,” Hedtkamp recalled.
After convincing his wife, Chris, and the rest of the family about the win, Hedtkamp put the ticket in his back pocket until he could place it in a safe deposit box. He claimed the ticket at a Missouri Lottery office on April 28.
Hedtkamp plans to use his prize money to buy a house, and he may buy some property at the Lake of the Ozarks. He also plans to use some of the winnings to buy “boats and cars.” In addition, he plans to put aside some money for his nine-year-old daughter’s upcoming college education.
Top-prize winners in the “$200,000 a Year for Life” game have the option of taking $200,000 a year for life with a guaranteed minimum payment for 20 years or a lump-sum payment of $3 million. Hedtkamp chose to take his prize in a lump sum.
Hedtkamp’s prize is the 36th prize worth $1 million or more sold through a Scratchers game, and the 275th prize worth $1 million or more overall since the Lottery began in 1986.
“$200,000 a Year for Life” is a $20 Scratchers game that started on Jan. 31. It offers the best payout percentage in Missouri history, more than $76 million in prizes and a chance to win up to 20 times per ticket. Two more prizes of $200,000 a year for life remain in the game.