PHILLIPS – Bear Hill Variety was a lucky place to be last week.

A scratch ticket with a quarter million dollar pot was sold there.

Manager Kellie Kamens saw it all.

Raymond Pooler of Waterville stopped in Wednesday, July 28, and bought a $10 scratch ticket at the store. He came back that evening, Kamens said Friday.

“He walked in, and asked if I remembered selling him that $10 ticket,” she said. “He asked me to look at it to see if he was reading it right.”

Kamens looked down at the ticket – a Big Winner Spectacular Game scratch ticket.

He was reading it right, she said.

And he was definitely a Big Winner. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars big.

“He was shaking and excited,” Kamens said. “He kept saying he wasn’t sure he was reading it correctly.”

It still doesn’t seem quite real to the 48-year-old retired construction worker. Reached at his home Friday night, Pooler said he hadn’t made any firm plans for his winnings, preferring to wait and see what struck his fancy.

“The most I’ve ever won before is $1,000, so this is pretty exciting,” he said.

One thing he knows for sure is that he’d like a new home for himself, his wife and 15-year-old son – a three-bedroom, log cabin. Part Passamaquoddy, Pooler said he’s been collecting Indian artifacts for a long time and his current home is stuffed with them.

“I just like the way log cabins look,” he said. “And my stuff would look cool in it.”

Kamens said she started running around the store – practically doing cartwheels – she was so excited about Pooler’s win. “Oh my God, you’re a quarter of a million dollar winner,” she remembers saying. “I asked him, ‘do you remember me telling you good luck?'”

Pooler said he didn’t have any particular feeling when he purchased the winning ticket. He often travels around the state looking for items to add to his Indian collection and he just buys lottery tickets wherever he goes.

“I like to play all different tickets, it doesn’t matter what kind,” he said.

Kamens, who doesn’t buy lotto tickets at Bear Hill, said she used to feel sorry for people who bought the expensive $5, $10, and $20 tickets, thinking they were throwing their money away.

But more than 60 percent of revenues from lotto ticket sales actually go back to the buyers, said Dan Gwadosky, the director of the Maine State Lottery.

Gwadosky, who used to work in the state’s motor vehicle department, said people in his department get to see lots of happy people. “One year (in his old job), I suspended 60,000 drivers’ licenses,” he said. “It’s a little more fun to be giving out half a million dollars on a day-to-day basis.”

The Maine State Lottery gives out between $2 million and $4 million a week, he said.

About 30 percent of each pot in state and federal taxes are taken out immediately, before the money is handed over to the winner, he said. Then a check is made out.

“We get to see a lot of excited people. When they come in here, they’re pretty happy. They come in and walk out with a cashier’s check,” he said.

Lisbon Street News in Lewiston also sold a winning $250,000 ticket recently. That winner, Jeannine Roy, declined to be interviewed saying she preferred to keep her privacy.

Back in Phillips, Kamens said she was happy for Pooler, but disappointed the ticket wasn’t sold to a local. “It would’ve been nice if it went to a local who would have shared the wealth,” she said.

Maybe next time.

– Staff writer Carol Coultas contributed to this report.


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