Buying lottery tickets on long trips is just something that the Buzzards Glory Balloon Team does for fun, but the hobby provided a bigger return than racing on a recent stop in Missouri. Susan Stamats, the pilot for Buzzards Glory, said that she regularly buys tickets for her team during trips across country. Her team traveled to Longview, Texas, to compete in the Balloon National Championship on the last weekend in July. They didn’t win, but a stop in Jefferson City resulted in a $5,000 payday.
“It’s just kind of a fun thing,” began Stamats. When we stop for gas, I buy tickets for everybody.”
The team stopped at Philips MPC, 301 Ellis Blvd. in Jefferson City, on the return trip to their home base in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Stamats was scratching a Missouri Lottery “Diamond 7” Scratchers ticket when she uncovered the $5,000 prize.
“It was a ticket that you could win on the back, too, so I started scratching on the back, and I won five out of six,” she recalled. “And I showed them, and said, ‘Is this really real? This can’t be right!’”
“I think we’re still in shock,” added chase-crew member William McClelland.
The three team members always split their winnings, including this larger prize. Luckily, the team of Stamats, McClelland and Dick Frye were right across the highway from Lottery headquarters. The clerk at the store directed them on how to claim their prize.
“So, it worked out really well for us,” said McClelland.
It was a marked improvement for the team, who said they did “lousy” in the competition.
“We were all down in the dumps until today,” laughed Frye.
“This really makes up for it,” added Stamats. “In fact, I think the guy who won it made $7,000. We were laughing that we made almost as much as he did.”
There were no plans yet for their windfall, about $1,600 for each team member. They joked that they might play for the growing Powerball jackpot, which they also did with lottery winnings at a stop in Texas.
“I don’t know,” said Stamats. “It’s like found money.”
Regardless, they’ll continue playing the lottery on long trips to balloon competitions. In the meantime, it was back to Cedar Rapids, where their other hobby provides almost as much excitement. The Buzzards Glory Balloon Company also offers rides to customers in Iowa.
“You meet all kinds of people doing it, and you always make them happy,” said Stamats about ballooning. “It’s a really fun business to be in.”
“Diamond 7” is a $5 game that officially began June 24. The game features a top prize of $100,000. This is the third Missouri Lottery Scratchers game to feature play areas on both the front and back of the ticket. More than $12 million in prizes, including seven top prizes, remain in the game.