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Hitting the jackpot

Robert

It was just the second ticket he’d ever bought in Mega Millions and he wasn’t even sure about the game’s name, but an eastern Iowa man is taking home a $250,000 prize.
Robert Ehrenberger, Ladora, claimed his big prize March 24 at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Des Moines. He won his $250,000 prize in the Tuesday, March 23, Mega Millions drawing.
Ehrenberger, 51, an iron worker, said his wife had told him about a new lotto game in Iowa, so he decided to buy a ticket.
“I went to get gas in Marengo. I said, ‘What the heck, I’ll take $5 on that Mega-whatever-it-is,’” he said with a laugh as he claimed his prize.
Powerball and Mega Millions are both lotto games with jackpot prizes that have climbed into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Until recently, the games had been sold by separate groups of lotteries, but many states, including Iowa, began selling tickets in both games in January.
Ehrenberger said he realized he’d won big when he stopped to buy his usual coffee Wednesday morning.
“I decided I’m going to sit there and look at the results and I found out I won,” he said. “I started shaking.”
Ehrenberger said his first stop was at home to share the news with his wife.
“I had tears in my eyes and she thought somebody died!” he said. “And I started pulling out the ticket and she goes, ‘No way! No way!’ And I said ‘Yes way!’ And she looked at the ticket and she couldn’t believe it herself.”
Ehrenberger bought his winning ticket at Ampride, 2205 Highway 6 Trail, Marengo.
The winning numbers in Tuesday’s $29 million Mega Millions drawing were: 3-25-28-29-40 and Mega Ball 13. The Megaplier® number that night was 4. Ehrenberger’s ticket matched the first five numbers but missed the Mega Ball to win a $250,000 prize. He didn’t add the Megaplier option to his ticket, which would have multiplied his prize to $1 million.
Players can multiply their prizes (except the jackpot) with the Megaplier up to four times. The cost is $1 per play.
Ehrenberger said he doesn’t think the big win will change life that much for his wife, two sons and himself, but he is hoping to find more time for his favorite pastime: fishing.
“I’m waiting for the rivers to drop and I’ll go walleye fishing,” he said.
Winning numbers may be checked at the lottery Web site at www.ialottery.com <http://www.ialottery.com>  or through the winning numbers’ hot line at (515) 323-4633. Winning numbers may also be checked with lottery retail outlets or by calling the lottery at (515) 725-7900 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Players can claim prizes at a lottery retailer or at one of the lottery’s offices in Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Storm Lake, Mason City or Cedar Rapids.
Since the Iowa Lottery’s inception in 1985, its players have won more than $2.4 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.2 billion for state programs. For more information about how lottery proceeds have helped make Iowa a better place to live, go to www.ialottery.com

UPDATED April 1, 2010 12:20 PM

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