2010-02-18 08:49:09.957

18-Year-Old Wins Top Lottery Prize

Story Photo audio icon One of the rights-of-passage that comes along with an 18th birthday is the ability to play the lottery.  J.P. Thibodeaux of St. Louis not only turned 18 and purchased his first Missouri Lottery ticket, but he also received a $50,000 present.

The first-time Lottery winner bought two "Crossword" Scratchers tickets on Feb. 11, but he thought his efforts went unrewarded when he lost on one of the games.  The laborer decided to put the remaining ticket into his pocket.  On his lunch break at Lane House Construction in St. Louis, he scratched the remaining ticket.

"I looked at one of my buddies, and all I could say was, ’I think I won a lot of money,’" he recalled.

The amount of the prize was unclear at first.

"I thought I only won actually $5,000, because I thought I only counted 10 words," he added.

After checking the ticket again, he realized he had won a top prize.

"I went to the gas station to see if they could cash it," he said.

While confirming his win at Mobil on the Run, 260 Vance Road in Valley Park, he learned that he would need to travel to a Lottery office to claim his prize.  Since it was a holiday weekend, Thibodeaux had to "wait it out" until Feb. 16 when Lottery offices re-opened.

Thibodeaux plans to use a portion of his winnings for a down-payment on a home.

"Crossword," a $3 game with a top prize of $50,000, officially began on July 18, 2009.

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