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Rags to riches

Debbie Marshall woke her husband, Richard, up at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday screaming and hyperventilating – something about winning the lottery, Richard remembered, “I said, ‘You’ve bumped your head.'”

But it was true.

The Grass Valley family had just won $11.5 million in the Super Lotto, splitting $23 million in winnings with a Southern California resident.



Debbie, 48, said she was in the bedroom, heard the numbers from the TV and wrote them down in the dark. After jotting down the digits, she then realized exactly what she had.

Suddenly wide awake, Richard immediately called the number on the back of the ticket and walked down to the Circle K convenience store and Union 76 gas station at the corner of Bank and South Auburn streets to verify their good luck.




On Thursday morning, the couple, married for 61Ú2 years, sat in the living room of their modest white house near downtown Grass Valley, in a state of shock answering myriad phone calls and talking with their two grown children about what to do with all that money.

Debbie’s 30-year-old son, Derek Fox and his fiancee, 23-year-old April Comendant, were already planning to wed Sept. 9, probably expecting modest wedding gifts. Now their thoughts turn to a nice home that the folks will buy them.

“I will help my family,” Debbie says. Counting up all the Grass Valley family members, they come up with six, including grandchildren.

Debbie said she expects to donate to charitable organizations which “have been there for us,” she says.

But first, she says “I want to pay our bills, then buy a home, help my family, and run away for a while and enjoy life.”

Then, she blurted out – to the surprise of her husband – that she also wants to buy a horse ranch.

Richard, 38, wants new cars, a top-of-the-line Cadillac SUV perhaps, to replace the 1986 Trooper and 1992 Chevy Cavalier they now drive. Looking ahead Derek and Richard may start a business together.

“We’re still working class,” said Derek, “and money can go.”

The Marshalls will not, however, get the total sum of $11.5 million, as they’ve chosen to take the amount in cash.

“We got out and purchased an annuity,” said Fred Cherniack, lottery sales manager at the California Lottery. “Had he (Richard) taken the 26-year annual payments, that’s the amount he would have received. What he decided to do was he took the cash option which is roughly half of the $11,500,000.

“So now, it happens, we will sell that annuity and get the cash proceeds and that’s the amount that will go to Mr. Marshall. It can be higher and lower depending on what the bond market is at the time we sell it.”

In a twist to his good fortune, Richard had just started a new job a week ago at Auburn Placer Disposal to earn more money.

One of the first things Debbie did Thursday was to go to her place of employment- Ralphs supermarket on Sutton Way in Grass Valley – and quit. She said she has had enough of decorating cakes after 15 years.

Circle K store manager Jacki Davis, on the job for just a month, said that while the store had winners who won hundreds of dollars in the lottery this was the first time it had a multi-million dollar winner.

A representative from the California State Lottery said the company, in this case Conoco Phillips, will receive one half of one percent of the winnings, or $57,500. He estimated the validation process would take close to two weeks, then the Marshalls will receive that check they are all waiting for.

“Our life will change,” said Debbie.

As if on cue Derek then announced “Channel 13 is coming.”

For details about Super Lotto Lottery, go to http://www.calottery .com/games/superlottoplus/

– Soumitro Sen contributed to this report.

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To contact staff writer Pam Jung, e-mail pamj@theunion.com or call 477-4232.


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