That’s always one of the first questions, isn’t it? “If you won the lottery, would you go to work the next day?”
So that was a normal thing to wonder after the California State Lottery announced Wednesday that Heaton had won a $439,691 Powerball lottery — right?
Actually, Heaton — a longtime hydrogeologist with the Department of Environmental Health who spends his days overseeing environmental investigations and hazardous materials cleanups — said he’s known about his big win for about three weeks now.
He said the lottery folks didn’t put out their press release until they did their regular background checks.
“I’m not sure the reasons (they do the background checks),” he said with a chuckle, “they probably check to make sure you’re not a deadbeat.”
Heaton, who said he doesn’t always play the lottery but “dabbles,” bought the winning ticket last month, using numbers his girlfriend recommended, while doing some routine Friday-night shopping at Vons on the way home from work.
And then, he promptly forgot about the tickets — until his girlfriend heard days later that a winning ticket had been sold in their area.
“I came home on Monday, or maybe Tuesday, and my girlfriend asked if I had bought the tickets. I looked on the Internet and I did a double-take!” Heaton said.
“I said, ‘you won’t believe this’ …” he remembered. “It was shocking. That’s a fair thing to say.”
Heaton said he actually bought two winning tickets, flipping the Powerball number on the second ticket. The first ticket had four winning numbers and $160 win. But the second one with the flipped Powerball number had five winning numbers — and the $439,691 win!
Heaton said one of the first things he did was contact his certified public accountant to figure out what the ramifications of his lottery win would be.
Heaton said the federal government immediately took 25 percent of the win as a partial payment for taxes and that he figures that will increase to about 35 percent. The state doesn’t take any taxes because it was the state’s lottery.
That still leaves a pretty nice chunk of change! But he said the win isn’t really changing his life.
“No, I planned to retire in about a year and a half,” he said. “This doesn’t change my plans. It does make things a little less stressful. I have some debts to pay off and this will make a nice nest egg when I retire.”
Heaton, who’s pretty low-key, actually hasn’t gotten the real check yet. He said he’ll get to pick that up in a few weeks, that he’s gotten over the shock and “gotten accustomed” to being a lottery winner.
So — it won’t change his life. Won’t he even have a celebratory dinner when he picks up the check?
“Oh we’ve already had a couple of those!” he said with a laugh.