Port Arthur man wins million dollar jackpot

Published 8:06 pm Friday, January 18, 2008


At nearly 90 years old, Port Arthur resident won’t be surprised by a surprise birthday party his family is planning. He says he found out about it, and that’s OK because he recently got the surprise of his life when he opened the newspaper and realized he had hit the jackpot.

Now that he’s won $1 million playing Mega Millions®, he’s really ready to have a good time at the “surprise” party on Feb. 9.

He matched five of the six numbers to win the million dollar prize, and enjoyed his role as millionare — at least for a day or two, he said.

“I wasn’t a millionare long; they took $250,000 out of it,” he said.

The tax payment did not surprise Pinder either. Afterall, he retired from the Internal Revenue Service, so knew what to expect.

But, with a cool $750,000 left to pocket, he’s planning to invest some, and spend the rest — or watch his wife of 58 years, Florence, spend the money, he said.

Even before the win, she had her eye on a new car, he said.

“Maybe that will happen now. I think I could get her a good used car for that,” he said.

They may have to wait a while to drive the car since one of his birthday presents is an Alaskan cruise, courtesy of their family

“I’ve been to every state in the Union, except Alaska,” he said in a press release issued by the Texas Lottery Commission. “Now I can say I’ve been to all of them.”

Pinder served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, now the Air Force, during World War II, flying Lockheed P-38 Lightning airplanes. The planes, with their twin fuselages, have been famously depicted in war movies and were flown mostly in the Pacific theatre.

Pinder has continued to fly throughout the years, and has performed in numerous air shows around the country.

A fan of college football, he is particularly fond of the “mortal enemy of Notre Dame,” the Purdue University Boilermakers, according to the press release.

He taught there for three years, and also taught math at Lamar University in Beaumont.”

Before the couple heads north to Alaska, Florence Pinder had to get a pass from her canasta club, as well as her line-dancing group.

Pinder saw three of the five matching numbers in the Port Arthur News. He then saw the remaining two in the Houston Chronicle and coolly turned the page while he sat on the couch with his wife. He didn’t tell her for three days that he had matched five of the six winning numbers in Friday night’s drawing. He then went to the store where he purchased the ticket, the Fastlane #29, 5410 West Parkway, in Groves. The clerk excitedly told him someone had bought a ticket there that matched five of the numbers drawn. He kept quiet about his ticket then, and has yet to fess up that he is the store’s winner.

Since winning the jackpot, Pinder said he has continued to go to the Groves store to visit and purchase lottery tickets — something he has done every Saturday for longer than he cares to remember.

“I go to the same store every Saturday, been going there so long that the girls call me “the loser,” he said. “They don’t yet know I’m the winner, because I’ve been making it a point to go in there and say, ‘Hey, did that guy every go and pick up his $1 million bucks?’”

Pinder said after all hoopla subsides from the win, things won’t change much in his life. It’ll be business as ususal starting Saturday when he goes back to the Groves store to purhcase another lottery ticket.

But, this time I’ll be a winner, he said.

But, mostly, he’s looking forward to his birthday party.

“There’s about 200 people invited. I’m sure there will be some people I don’t know and some I just can’t remember,” he said.

Contact this reporter at skoonce@panews.com

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