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    That's no typo: Lotto numbers are a match

    A Seminole man's ticket numbers agree with those in the paper, but the winner could not believe it.

    By STEPHANIE SCRUGGS and MAUREEN BYRNE

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2001


    SEMINOLE -- Every day Herbert Grotkopf stops by a convenience store and buys a cup of coffee and a pack of Viceroy Lights.

    And on every Monday he adds some lottery tickets to his purchase.

    "He's a very friendly and very nice man," said John Davis, a clerk at Cumberland Farms at 5401 Seminole Blvd. "We called him the Viceroy Lights man."

    Make that the Millionaire Man.

    On Tuesday, Grotkopf, 72, and his wife, Eleanor, 67, picked up a check for $1,503,398.

    The retirees, who live in the Harbor Lights Club Mobile Home Park on Bay Pines Boulevard, were in Tallahassee on Tuesday to claim a $3-million Lotto jackpot on a Quick Pick ticket in the April 4 drawing.

    Instead of receiving 30 annual installments of approximately $100,000, the Grotkopfs elected to take a single cash payment, which worked out to just over $1.5-million.

    Grotkopf said he had no idea his ticket had the winning numbers -- 15, 30, 37, 38, 45 and 47 -- until Friday, when he saw a 3- by 5-foot sign in the Cumberland store's front window. It read: "Lotto Winning Ticket Sold Here."

    So Grotkopf, who is retired from New York Telephone Co.,went home to check his lottery tickets.

    "He came home, and I checked the numbers with him in the newspaper," said Mrs. Grotkopf, a homemaker and a former retail employee. "I cannot explain the feeling as you're checking your card with the numbers in the paper, and finally it kind of sinks in. But no, you think, it's a typo."

    No typo.

    The Grotkopfs' ticket matched all six winning Lotto numbers. But just to make sure, they went to the Florida Lottery headquarters' office in St. Petersburg to confirm they were winners.

    "Not with my luck, I didn't think I was a winner," Herbert Grotkopf said.

    The couple said they play the same numbers every week, using their children's and grandchildren's birth dates and ages. They also buy a $5 Quick Pick card.

    "I called one of my daughters and she didn't believe me that we had won," Mrs. Grotkopf said. "In fact, when I called the rest of our children, none of them believed me at first. They all thought it was an April Fools' joke."

    At home in Seminole, the news spread fast.

    "I only told one neighbor in the mobile home park where we live that we won the Lotto," Grotkopf said. "Within about 10 minutes, it had spread to all 285 people who live in our park."

    "It's great," Davis, the store clerk, said. "Especially since they deserved it and needed it."

    The Grotkopfs moved from New Jersey to Seminole in 1989. They have five grown children. They plan to move to Coral Gables and buy a home there to be closer to one of their daughters.

    Davis said Grotkopf promised his wife if he ever had enough money, he would buy her a Lincoln Town Car.

    This week, Grotkopf finally was able to make good on his promise.

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