Jefferson City, MO (KSDK) -- A 73-year-old retiree from Ohio living in small-town Missouri won more than $30,000 playing the Pick 4 game in the state lottery.
Such wins are a fairly normal occurrence, but what sets Gene Graves apart from others is that he won the money using ten Pick 4 tickets, all with the same number, and gave five of the tickets to people he knew.
Graves, a Korean War veteran, decided to live in Jadwin, Missouri many years ago while on a vacation to visit family. He was traveling through Salem and stopped at a local diner for a meal in Jadwin. He struck up a conversation with a local, who remembered Graves a year later when he passed back through town.
Graves said he was sold on the town and decided he wanted to live there someday.
A friend told Graves he should buy tickets that share the same numbers, since picking different numbers for each ticket would be like "throwing money away." Graves liked his friend's reasoning, and bought ten Pick 4 tickets for the September 23 drawing with the same numbers: 2-5-9-8.
Prior to the drawing, Graves gave five of the tickets to people he knew around town. The numbers hit and Graves, who kept five tickets for himself, won $15,625. Each of the single tickets he gave away won $3,125.
Jadwin is about 130 miles southwest of St. Louis. Graves bought this winning round of tickets at Break Time, 1002 Highway 32 East. He's well-known in the community for performing odd-jobs, song writing and the occasional Lottery ticket gift.