Winner of $1m Iowa Lottery prize was born in Thai refugee camp

DES MOINES, IA – A man who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand claimed an Iowa Lottery prize of $1 million yesterday after he won $40,000 a year for 25 years from a $20 Iowa Lottery scratch off ticket.

Aenoi Phetxoumphone, 29, of Webster City, said he cried when he realized he had won the top prize in “Lifetime Riches’ instant-scratch game.

Phetxoumphone, was born to parents who had escaped war in Laos. The family initially came to California and he arrived in Webster City 13 years ago.

He and his wife, Boonnyou, 26, have four children. She and his brother, Choy, 25, joined him at a news conference Monday at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Des Moines.

The lucky player explained that his success began when he purchased a $2 ticket that won a prize, which resulted in him winning again with a $10 ticket. That led him to buy the $20 Lifetime Riches ticket. So he had two instances of luck before he even started scratching the third and final ticket.

He said he scratched the ticket and showed it to his nine-year-old daughter, who told him, “Daddy. It is a $40 with a K on it.” That meant he won $40,000 a year for 25 years.

Instead of taking the annual payments, the winner chose to take a lump-sum cash option of $650,000, which netted him $455,000 after state and federal taxes were paid.

Phetxoumphone works as a machine operator at Automatic Machine Products Inc. in Webster City. He plans to continue work and intends to invest his prize money to save for his and his children’s future.

source: Des Moines Register

Published: February 8, 2011

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