SCHENECTADY - The mystery of who won one of the largest lottery jackpots ever in the region has been dispelled.
Friday Feb. 11, New York Lottery officials introduced Jeff Pintuff and his wife, Christine of Wilton in Saratoga County as the winners of the Dec. 25 Powerball drawing for a jackpot of $48.8 million. The Pintuffs, both 58, spent more than a month interviewing financial planners before stepping forward Feb. 1 to claim their prize, according to a Lottery press release.
The Pintuffs, married 30 years, realized their good fortune after a hectic Christmas weekend. Jeff, now retired from his quality-control job at Atlas Copco in Voorheesville, said he bought the ticket a couple of days in advance of the drawing as the couple prepared to receive guests for the holiday weekend.
"I left work early Dec. 23 so I could help with the cooking and cleaning before our guests came," he said.
On the way home, Pintuff stopped at the Stewart's Shop on Route 50 in Wilton and purchased the winning $1 Quick Pick ticket that yielded $48.8 million.
"I put the ticket on the fridge under a magnet like I always do," he said. "And never gave it a second thought until the morning after the drawing."
Four days later, Jeff checked the ticket online and told his wife, "We won the Powerball!"
"How many numbers did we get?" she responded.
Pintuff said he repeated himself numerous times before either could believe their good fortune. The couple then signed the ticket and took it to their safe deposit box until they were ready to claim it.
Just days before claiming the prize, Christine Pintuff retired from her nursing position at Saratoga Hospital.
"It was scary," she said. "I've been there for 30 years."
Pintuff said the only thing she found to be more difficult than leaving her job was keeping her secret from her friends and co-workers for nearly two months.
"It was hard to keep such a big secret, but we just weren't ready to tell anyone," she said.
The Pintuffs opted to receive their prize as a lump sum with each receiving a 50 percent share of the prize. Each will receive a one-time payment totaling more than $12.4 million or $8.2 million after taxes.
"I worry about what to do with 500 bucks," Jeff Pintuff said. "I'm so glad we had a plan for the money."
The Pintuffs said their plans are modest.
"My children keep telling me I need a new car," he said. "I only have 163,000 miles on the one I have now - I think I can get it to 200,000."
Christine Pintuff said she was thinking about getting away for a while.
"We haven't been away from home for more than three days since 1996," she said. "We need a vacation."