Don Urbielewicz is a superstitious man.
It turns out, that’s a good thing – $200,000 worth of a good thing.
The Corrales resident won the money by playing the New Mexico Lottery using the same numbers, 1, 9, 11, 23 and 31, that he’s been using for 15 years. He bought the winning ticket for the July 9 Powerball drawing. He missed the red “Powerball” No. 6 that would have given him the $36 million jackpot.
The numbers Urbielewicz plays represent the birthdays of family members, but he learned recently that he had been using the wrong date for his stepson.
“After 15 years, I was too superstitious to correct it,” he told the New Mexico Lottery staff.
Urbielewicz, 59, said the reactions from friends and his co-workers at a local retail store have been mixed.
“Some say, ‘Buy a house.’ ‘Buy a truck,’ ” he said. “But surprisingly some of the younger guys have told me not to spend foolishly.”
He said he and his wife plan to spend frugally. They will use the money to fix up their house and give 10 percent of the winnings to charity. He and his wife, Karen, attend Calvary of Albuquerque and said they felt it was the right thing to do. They will give to St. Jude’s, another children’s hospital, and organizations that help veterans and military families.
The government will get its piece, as well, with $62,000 going to state and federal taxes.
Urbielewicz realized he had won after checking the lottery’s website and seeing his family’s birth dates listed as winning Powerball numbers. His first thought was that maybe he had forgotten to buy a ticket, according to the news release.
“I went out to my truck and made sure I really had played that drawing,” he is quoted as saying. “Whew.”
The next emotion was shock.
“It took a while to sink in,” he said in an interview. “You play and play and play. It was hard to believe I had finally won.”
The next step was telling his wife, Karen. He said the serious look on his face had her worried for a minute. “The way he sounded, I thought maybe a pet had died,” she told lottery officials. “He took me to the computer in the office and he said ‘We won $200,000.’ ”
She then proceeded to commend his persistence.
“She said, ‘Well, I guess it paid off,’ ” he said.
Urbielewicz said he will continue to play the same numbers.
“There are some people who win twice,” he said. “What the heck. I can afford it now.”
He purchased the lucky ticket at the Albertsons at 10131 Coors NW. The store has sold 13 large prizewinning lottery tickets ranging from $1,000 to $250,000.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal