Since the start of the California Lottery in 1984, Modesto native Elfred Meitzenheimer has played the same numbers over and over. They’re a combination of family members’ birthdays and current and former addresses.
He said the numbers have won him thousands of dollars. Wednesday night, they apparently won Meitzenheimer $1.4 million in the Powerball lottery.
One lucky winner in Milpitas who picked all five numbers and the Powerball number won the $425 million jackpot.
Meitzenheimer awoke Thursday to learn he had a ticket that matched all five numbers – 1, 17, 35, 49, 54 – but not the Powerball number – 34. The prize for hitting five numbers but not the Powerball number was split with a winner in Southern California.
Lottery spokeswoman Cathy Johnston said Thursday afternoon that none of the three winners had contacted lottery officials or had claimed their winnings at one of the Lottery’s nine district offices.
But Meitzenheimer, as unique as his name, waltzed into the Stop N Save Liquor at 1424 Coffee Road – where he bought the ticket – with what he says is the winning ticket tucked into his Dooney and Bourke handbag. He plans to claim his winnings at the Sacramento district office today.
Clad in a suit with blue cowboy boots, big sunglasses, a toucan brooch studded in rhinestones and a shirt with the light orange color that matched his winning ticket, Meitzenheimer showed off the ticket to other customers in the store.
Several people looked starstruck and a few even asked if they could touch him for good luck.
“I got up this morning, looked at my ticket and there all the numbers were just like they fell out of the computer,” Meitzenheimer said.
He said he had to put down his ticket and return to it a few minutes later to make sure he wasn’t mistaken.
Meitzenheimer said he spends about $30 a week on the lottery and always buys his tickets and the Coffee Road liquor store, which will get $7,000 for selling the winning ticket, Johnston said.
Meitzenheimer retired from Gallo Glass Co. after 35 years and now is a part-time interior designer.
“I’m very good, as you can see, with putting things together ... home decor, outfits, the whole nine yards,” said the flamboyant 63-year-old, motioning to his duds. “I’ve always had a thing for color and patterns.”
With his “live life to the fullest” attitude, Meitzenheimer said he plans to use the money to help family and friends who need it, buy an Audi and travel the world, starting in New York.
“I’m going to enjoy life because you never know what’s going to happen, “ he said. “I may walk out of here and get hit by a truck.
“You never know what’s going to happen so I enjoy every day, and every day you wake up is a good day.”