CLIVE, Iowa — A New Hampton couple who claimed a $2 million Powerball® prize on Thursday said they first got an inkling about the good news when an email was sent out to all employees at their workplace.
Karla and Keith Elenz both work at an auto-parts manufacturing facility in New Hampton and said that an inner-office email went out to employees Tuesday after someone saw the big news that the Iowa Lottery had announced for their Chickasaw County community of about 3,500.
“It said, ‘Oh, my gosh! There’s a winner of $2 million in New Hampton. Who bought the ticket? Hopefully someone from our office or that we know!’” recalled Karla Elenz, who claimed the prize with her husband Thursday at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive.
After reading the email, Karla, 53, said she ran out to her vehicle where she had a Powerball ticket tucked into the sun visor. She brought up the winning Powerball numbers from Monday’s drawing on her mobile phone and compared those to the numbers on her ticket. Then she knew she had to find her husband.
Keith Elenz, 55, said he could tell Karla had something big to share, but in the rush of the moment, they understandably had a little trouble communicating.
“She goes, ‘We won!’ And I said, ‘Won what?’” he recalled. “And she goes, ‘Look! Here are the numbers and here’s the ticket!’ And I went, ‘How much did we win?’ She goes, ‘I think $2 million!’ And I went, ‘Nooo.’”
The couple said they kept the news to themselves for the rest of the afternoon, and then their communications difficulties took another amusing turn when they shared the news that evening with family. Karla said that her mom, who is in her 80s, didn’t catch all the details at first.
“She said, ‘You won $2,000!’” Karla Elenz recalled with a laugh. “I said, ‘No.’ ‘Well, $20,000?’ I said, ‘No, add a couple more zeroes!’ She goes, ‘$2 million?!’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ She goes, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ So she didn’t sleep that night at all.”
The Elenzes said that they plan to invest their winnings and help local charities.
“Life is short. I’m going to put my pants on the same way as I did yesterday,” Karla said. “I’m going to work.”
Karla Elenz bought the $2 million-winning ticket at Casey’s, 615 N. Linn Ave. in New Hampton. She chooses her own numbers, playing a set that are significant to her, and her ticket was just one number away from having at least a share of Monday’s $26.8 million jackpot.
Her ticket initially matched the first five numbers but missed the Powerball to win a $1 million prize. But Karla Elenz also added the Power Play® option to the purchase, which multiplies the prize at the Match 5 level to $2 million.
The New Hampton ticket was the only one in the country to win a $2 million prize in Monday’s drawing.
Monday’s winning numbers were 14-17-18-21-27 and Powerball 9. The Power Play option was 2.
Casey’s will receive a $2,000 bonus from the Iowa Lottery for selling the $2 million-winning ticket.
Keith Elenz joked that maybe now he can get that airplane he’s always wanted. And the couple said they’ll definitely enjoy a trip they’d already planned to Las Vegas in the spring to celebrate a family birthday. But in general, they plan for their lives to remain the same.
“We’re probably just going to do our regular routine when we leave here,” Karla Elenz said.
Players in $2 Powerball choose their first five numbers from a pool of 69, and another number – called the Powerball – from a separate pool of 26. The Power Play® option is available for an extra $1 per play.
Since getting its start in April 1992 in 15 states with jackpots that started at a guaranteed $2 million, Powerball has grown into one of the world’s biggest and most recognizable lottery games. Today Powerball is played by 48 lotteries across the country with drawings at 9:59 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.