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Hollywood man claims $35 million jackpot, year's biggest Lotto payout


A 66-year-old Hollywood retiree's secret came out Monday, when the Florida Lottery announced he has come forward to claim a $35 million Florida Lotto jackpot.

According to Florida Lotto stats, that's the biggest payout of the year.

Paul Hemphill, who moved here from Ohio about 10 years ago, bought a ticket for the May 28 drawing at Hollywood Food Mart, located at 815 S. 21st Ave. in Hollywood.

"I told only my best friend and my daughter the first month," he said. "I just walked around with a smile on my face."

But he also got with a lawyer and set up a trust. He'll use the $20.5 million lump-sum payment to eventually care for his two children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. But that money will come later. He still wants them to be productive members of society, learn to work for a living and not get spoiled.

"I don't want a situation where they're not going to have to do anything," he said. "But it makes me happy to know that I can provide for my grandkids and future generations."

Hemphill, who is divorced, said he grew up in Mississippi, moved to Ohio, then moved to South Florida. He declined to say what he used to do for a living or be photographed. (I can't say I blame him).

Hemphill said he has been playing Florida Lotto since the game’s inception in 1988. Though he always selects his own numbers, he does not play the same numbers every drawing.

This time he chose 7-36-41-42-44-47.

"I have a system," he said.

FYI, for you literate folks out there, this is not the Paul Hemphill who wrote about the South and his journeys. That Paul Hemphill passed away in 2009.

"But actually, he and I met on an airplane once," Hemphill said. "A very nice guy, and I became a fan of his works."

Hemphill said he doesn't have any extravagant interests, and is a big sports fan.

"I just want to keep things as low-key as possible," he said.

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Categories: Lottery (286)


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About the author
Maybe you've made the right play, maybe you haven't. Your heart speeds up, your stomach rumbles.

That's why it's called gambling.

ACTION is a view of the numbers, the psychology and the flavor of gambling here in South Florida, through our lens.

We do have one sure bet. There's something here for you.

NICK SORTAL began playing 3-card "gut" and "Indian poker" on high school band trips, moved on to "night baseball" and "pass the trash" during a Dr. Pepper-infused midnight game in the 1980s at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and now play in a regular neighborhood Hold 'Em game in Plantation. I have been given the assignment of writing about the gambling life in South Florida casinos for the Sun-Sentinel...which means sitting around watching poker on TV now counts as research.
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