BOISE, Idaho – Idaho’s wildfire summer of winning lottery tickets has included six $1,000,000 or higher prizes, the most recent being claimed by a man who has spent his summer fighting fires in and around Caldwell.  Mark Wendelsdorf, the Fire Chief for the City of Caldwell, alongside his wife, claimed the $1,000,000 winning Powerball ticket sold for the September 19, 2012 draw today at Idaho Lottery headquarters in Boise.

“I checked the ticket on Thursday morning after the draw at a store and was told to sign it and take it to Boise,” explained Wendelsdorf on how he found out he had the winning ticket. “But they couldn’t tell me how much it was, so I thought I’d won maybe $2,500.”

Using an Idaho Lottery smart phone app, he checked his ticket against the winning numbers and discovered he had matched the first five numbers on one of the lines.

“I remember when they changed Powerball to $2 per ticket they also increased the prize amounts. I checked the Lottery’s website and saw that matching the first five numbers won a million dollars,” continued Wendelsdorf, who despite his discovery still remained unconvinced he was the winner.  “After a morning of meetings and lunch with my wife, I checked the app again and there was a press statement from the Lottery saying a million dollar winner had been sold in Caldwell.  That’s when I knew I was the winner.”

Wendelsdorf kept winning on the back burner for another couple of days, despite the winning ticket being a hot topic of discussion for people around his work. He signed the ticket and locked it in a safe place at the Fire Station.  When he finally told his wife two days later, she didn’t believe him.

“He’s a big practical joker, so I thought he was kidding. He went back to work and took a picture of it to prove it to me,” said his wife Kim.  “I still have the picture!”

The Wendelsdorf’s took nearly three weeks before coming forward to claim their ticket.  During the time, the couple put their financial affairs in order, taking the opportunity to meet with their banker and accountant before claiming the ticket.

“When we wake up on Friday morning, we will be debt free,” said Weldensdorf. 

“Before you receive the check, you feel it’s kind of like Monopoly money,” added Kim when she held the real check.  “Wow, this really is real.”

In addition to being debt free, the Weldensdorf’s will also treat themselves to a few big presents and then invest the remainder of their winnings.

The winning ticket was sold at the Stinker Store located at 704 Cleveland Boulevard in Caldwell, a block from the Fire Station.  For their part in selling the winning ticket, Stinker Stores receives a $20,000 bonus from the Idaho Lottery.

The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday night is an estimated $50 million.

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