2002-07-26 15:04:34.0


video icon The Missouri Lottery’s first "Fun & Fortune Wheel Spin" got off to an unbelievable start when the first two of four spinners each landed on the $250,000 top prize spot. Terry Middleton, 48, of Owensville was the first spinner, and Art Ward, 64, of Poplar Bluff was the second spinner in the first "Fun & Fortune Wheel Spin" held at 2 p.m. July 26 at the Lottery’s headquarters in Jefferson City.

"It was unbelievable," said Gary Gonder, the director of communications for the Missouri Lottery. "The odds of that happening are astronomical. But we are very happy for our players, and it was a great way to kick off this new event."

In addition to the prize money won in the spin today, each of the four finalists also received $500 when their names were drawn to participate in the "Wheel Spin" event.

Terry Middleton said he plans to use his $250,500 prize money to buy a house and a new car. He also plans to buy his daughter a car. Middleton works for Intergram St. Louis Seating in Pacific, a company that makes seats for PT Cruisers.

Middleton’s entry was drawn on June 28. He purchased his winning ticket at Break Time, 702 w. Highway 28 in Owensville. He only mailed one entry for the June 28 drawing, and it was the first $2 "Fun & Fortune" ticket he had ever bought.

Art Ward of Poplar Bluff also won $250,500 in the first "Fun & Fortune Wheel Spin." He plans to use his windfall to pay for a full-time nurse to care for his mother, who has had a mysterious illness since February. He also plans to buy a new car for himself and his son.

"The Lottery’s been good to me, and today tops it off," said Art Ward, who is disabled.

Ward purchased his winning entry ticket at Country Mart, 616 Highway 53 in Poplar Bluff. His ticket was drawn to qualify him as a finalist on July 5.

The two other finalists were Paul Gruendler II of St. Louis (63134), who won $10,500, and Kari Hafley of Hermann, who won $5,500.

Gruendler said he plans to put some of his winnings into his truck, pay off some credit card debt and put some money on a house he has been renting. Gruendler is the dairy manager for Food 4 Less, 1200 New Sugar Creek in Fenton, where he purchased his winning "Fun & Fortune" entry ticket. It was the first $2 "Fun & Fortune" ticket he had ever purchased, also. His name was drawn as a finalist on July 12.

Kari Hafley said she plans to use her $5,500 winnings to "pay off bills and party."

"It was exhilarating," she said about the first "Wheel Spin" event. I was nervous, but happy."

Hafley purchased her winning entry ticket at Break Time in Owensville, the same store where Middleton purchased his winning entry ticket. Her name was drawn as a finalist on July 19.

The new "Fun & Fortune Wheel Spin" replaced the televised "Fun & Fortune" game show. For a chance to win $500 and a chance to spin the wheel, players need to buy a new $2 "Fun & Fortune" wheel spin Scratchers ticket. If the ticket is a winner and the prize is "ENTRY," the ticket should be mailed to Lottery headquarters in Jefferson City to be placed in a weekly drawing. Each week, 10 of these "ENTRY" tickets will be drawn, and those winners will receive $500. In addition, one of these 10 preliminary winners will be drawn for a chance to spin the wheel and win up to $250,000. The smallest amount a player can win in the wheel spin is $2,500.

The "Fun & Fortune Wheel Spin" is open to the public. It is also streamed on the Lottery’s Web site for players to watch from anywhere in the world.

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*In the event of a discrepancy, official winning numbers prevail over any numbers posted on this website.