Lottery winner breathes easier

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COEUR d'ALENE - It could be said that breathing easier is a way of life for Coeur d'Alene's Ralph Paul. 

That metaphor though took on a whole new meaning when the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality air shed coordinator for North Idaho won a $145,000 Wild Card jackpot from the Idaho Lottery. The winning ticket was sold for the Oct. 8 Wild Card draw.

"I checked my numbers and couldn't believe it," said a still disbelieving Paul when he claimed his winning ticket with his wife Jody at Lottery Headquarters in Boise. "I matched every single one of the numbers."

Wild Card is a multi-state game played only in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.  In the game, players select five numbers from 1 to 31, and a Wild Card which is one face card from a standard deck of cards and that card's suit. When all five numbers and the Wild Card are matched, the player wins the jackpot.

"A few years ago I got a quick pick and I just keep playing the same ticket over and over," said Paul, who has lived in North Idaho for about eight years.

As the air shed coordinator, Paul is responsible to make sure the air in that region is clear for everyone. After his new found windfall, however, Paul and his wife are literally breathing easier. The couple plans to use their windfall to pay off some bills that have accumulated over the past couple of years then invest the rest wisely.

A regular player, Paul bought his Wild Card winning ticket at the Fairway Gas and Grocery, 1745 W. Kathleen, Coeur d'Alene.  For their part in selling the winning ticket, Fairway Gas and Grocery receives a $20,000 bonus from the Idaho Lottery. 

"It is just super fantastic that it was one our regular players," said Hannah Symons, the manager at Fairway Gas and Grocery. "This is great for our store and our community."

This was Idaho's second jackpot-winning Wild Card ticket in the past six months.

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