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Tampa man claims his Lotto loot

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© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- A Tampa man who only occasionally plays the lottery split the $8-million jackpot April 19 with another lucky ticket holder.

Jimmy Caceres Ruiz, 39, who claimed his share Monday at Florida Lottery headquarters in Tallahassee, elected to take his winnings in a single cash payment of about $2,097,379, instead of 30 annual installments of $133,333. The other winning ticket, sold in Deltona, has not been claimed.

Ruiz, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, told lottery officials that he plays only once in awhile and never spends more than a dollar or two.

"In fact, I was just joking that I'll never win," he told lottery officials. "That's why I only play a dollar or two each drawing."

Ruiz bought the ticket at A&M Food Mart on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Tampa. The winning numbers, which Ruiz picked from numbers he saw around his work area, were 4, 8, 11, 21, 34, 45.

Driving to work, he heard the numbers announced on the radio. He knew he had three right and asked a colleague at work to read the others from the paper.

"I think I then stopped breathing because I almost had a heart attack," he said.

Ruiz told officials that he might spend some of the money on a new home.

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