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A Look Back At SD's Past Jackpot Winners

November 28, 2012, 9:59 PM by Kelly Bartnick

A Look Back At SD's Past Jackpot Winners

On the night of what could be a near-record Powerball Jackpot win, we dug into the KELOLAND news archives to explore past South Dakotans who became overnight millionaires.

Ionia Klein of Dallas, South Dakota was declared the jackpot winner before Powerball even existed. In April 1991, the game was known as Lotto America.

“All the media attention, I was one to never even like home photos, let alone every time I look at something I'm in it. I don't care for that,” Klein said in an interview with KELOLAND Television months after a court battle that followed her win.

A ticket was left behind at the Gregory convenience store where Klein worked. A different clerk made a mistake and an unknown customer refused to buy it. Klein purchased the ticket after it was already a winner. The store owners argued they owned the ticket too. They eventually split the winnings, leaving Klein with less than half of the $12.4 million jackpot.

“I'm not thrilled with everything. But I don't hate it so much that I wish I'd never found the ticket or anything. I can't say that,” Klein said.

Then came the Watertown 34. Twelve years later in 2003, coworkers at Minnesota Rubber pooled their pocketbooks to purchase tickets, splitting a 50.9 million prize. Each took home more than a half million dollars after taxes.

Pat Fossum of Lennox almost never got the money from her 2005 lottery ticket.

“I was going through the junk mail and threw the ticket in the pile. I threw it all away and put the ticket in the garbage,” Fossum said during her winning announcement.

Lucky for her she found it, and collected $750,000 after taxes.

The next year a Pierre couple cashed in. Bill and Tina Nguyen won $117 million, taking home nearly $40 million after taxes. They shared some of that with their community before moving out of state.

“Winning the Powerball is something I've dreamed about,” South Dakota Rancher Neal Wanless told a crowd in 2009.

At 23, Neal Wanless of Mission reached that goal. The South Dakota rancher bought a ticket worth $232 million, taking home more than $88 million after taxes.

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