To announce one of the biggest events of their lives together, Cindy and Mark Hill returned to the place where it all began — the high school where they became sweethearts in the 1970s.
Surrounded by family and friends, the two were introduced Friday as winners in this week’s huge Powerball lottery — an extraordinary stroke of luck that gives them half of the $588 million jackpot.
The nostalgic high-school homecoming seemed to reflect the couple’s hopes of staying true to their roots and living simply, at least as simply as possible for winners of one of the biggest lottery prizes in history.
“We will still be going down to the corner cafe for breakfast or fish day. I can guarantee you,” Cindy Hill said. “You know it’s just us. We’re just normal human beings. We’re as common as anybody. We just have a little bit more money.”
The Hills, who have three grown sons and a 6-year-old daughter, said they don’t play the lottery regularly. They spent $10 on five tickets with random numbers. The result: After taxes, they will take home a lump sum of $136.5 million.
“We’re still stunned by what’s happened,” said Hill, a former office manager who was laid off in 2010. “It’s surreal.”
The other winning ticket was sold in Fountain Hills, Ariz., near Phoenix. No one has come forward with it yet, lottery officials said.
Joining the Hills at the news conference were their children, with the youngest, Jaiden, sitting on her father’s lap clutching a black stuffed horse. She was adopted from China five years ago. When asked what she wanted for Christmas, the little girl said simply: “Pony.”
Friday’s news conference made official what just about everyone in the town of 500 north of Kansas City already knew, thanks in part to a Facebook posting by Mark Hill, said their son Cody.
Cindy Hill, sounding cautious and a little concerned about the windfall, said they have no immediate plans to move out of their single-story ranch house on a quiet cul-de-sac.
But they will have more free time. Mark Hill quit his job as a mechanic Thursday.