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Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Media Contact:  Kym Gerlock
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The Lottery welcomes its 100th winner of $1 million (or more)!

In news sure to spread extra holiday cheer throughout the state, the Tennessee Lottery announced today it had hit yet another milestone with the sale of its 100th winning ticket worth $1 million or more. The lucky holder of the 100th ticket, Thomas Ridenhour of Jackson, arrived at the Lottery’s Nashville headquarters this morning to claim his prize, won by playing the instant-ticket game “Millionaire Jumbo Bucks.”

Mr. Ridenhour, who works at Lowes in Jackson, accepted the hoopla and extra attention surrounding his noteworthy win with good spirits. “This is truly a blessing,” said Mr. Ridenhour, who lost a leg three years ago due to a spider bite. “This will provide some financial relief and give me the extra cushion I will need hopefully for a long time.”

Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove and dozens of Lottery employees were on-hand to help celebrate the occasion. “Winning a million dollars in the lottery is everyone’s dream,” said Ms. Hargrove. “And with 100 winning tickets so far, that dream comes true more often than most people ever imagine. We’re proud of the many scholarships funded by the Lottery, but for sheer enjoyment, nothing beats handing over a big check to a lucky winner.”

There have been a lot of big winning checks since the Lottery’s inception in January 2004. Though the 100 winning tickets of a million dollars or more represent the largest single prizes, Lottery players in Tennessee have won more than $5.6 billion in prizes since the Lottery began.

“Our goal is to continue bringing new and entertaining lottery games to the playing public,” said Ms. Hargrove. “And that means we’re starting on our next 100 millionaires right away!”

Indeed, it is a certainty that the next million-dollar winner will be identified tomorrow when the Lottery conducts a “Play it Again!” drawing, which will award over $1.4 million in prizes, including at top prize of one million dollars.

The 100 winning tickets have been sold all across the state and purchased by folks from all walks of life, beginning with the first big winner, a Knoxville welder who won a million dollars in June 2004 by entering a “Tennessee Millionaire” instant ticket into a second chance drawing.

Most of the big winners shy away from publicity, but a handful are featured on the Lottery’s website and have been interviewed by the media. It’s no surprise that these winners were thrilled, and several who were recently contacted reported that life is indeed treating them well. “We’re living the dream,” said Rick Checchin of Murfreesboro, who won $1 million on May 14, 2007, playing “Million Dollar Madness.” While the win was not enough for Mr. Checchin to retire, he said that his family life includes a new lake house, few bills and “lots of golf and fishing!”

Art Baker of Buffalo Valley, who won $1 million playing the instant-ticket game, “$1,000,000 Casino,” said he reinvested his prize money into his farm. “We used local labor and local materials, so it also had a positive impact on the community around here,” he said. “It’s been all good and I’m thankful.”

Although some of the games that featured prizes of $1 million or more are no longer available, other games have taken their place, and the Lottery will always offer a variety of ways to win at least one million dollars or more. Of the 100 tickets, 37 were from Powerball, followed by 20 from “Tennessee Millionaires Club,” an instant-ticket game no longer on sale. Eight wins (including Mr. Ridenhour’s) were from “Millionaire Jumbo Bucks,” and four were from the multi-state lotto game, “Mega Millions.” The Lottery has even awarded $1 million through its Play It Again! program, which gives players a chance to win cash prizes by entering non-winning instant tickets at

The Lottery is celebrating this milestone with a creative commemorative poster featuring tickets from all 100 winning games.

About the Tennessee Education Lottery
The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation operates entirely from the revenue it generates through the sale of its products. Net proceeds from sales of Lottery tickets, currently averaging over $5.3 million per week, fund specific education programs, including college scholarships and after-school programs.

Since the Lottery began selling tickets on Jan. 20, 2004, it has raised more than $2.47 billion for these programs. In addition to the educational beneficiaries, players have won over $5.6 billion in prizes and Lottery retailer partners have earned more than $615 million in retailer commissions.
For more information, please visit For information about Lottery-funded scholarships, visit To see a county-by-county breakdown of the number of students who benefit, visit

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