Winning the lottery is a bucket list dream for most people worldwide. It offers the fantasy of never having to worry about money, leaving all your worries behind. Yet this couple got more than they bargained for.
Stunned The Locals
Mark and Cindy Hill from Dearborn, Missouri, stunned locals after a huge lottery win. They were just a normal couple who kept to themselves, until the day that surprised everyone in their town, including them. This sort of thing doesn’t happen to them they thought.
Life Turned Upside Down
Like most winners, the Hills lived a relatively quiet life before purchasing the proverbial golden ticket in November 2012. Mark was a factory worker, but Cindy was unemployed after losing her office manager job in 2010. The pair also have three adult sons and an adopted six-year-old daughter from China.
Times Are Tough
The Hills lived a nice life, but times were often hard, and with only one income coming in, there were times that they worried how they could put food on the table. Cindy looked for other work but jobs were few and far between and she wanted to be at home to look after her daughter.
No Other Option
Cindy needed to think of how she could make some money without having to go back to work full time, and accepting waitressing jobs and other things that meant she would be away from home for long hours. She knew what she could do, she didn’t know if it would work but it was worth a try. So that very day she set out to complete her task.
What Would Happen Next?
With a whopping record $587.5 million Powerball jackpot up for grabs, Cindy bought five tickets at a local Dearborn gas station for $10. Instead of choosing the numbers herself however, she let the computer choose them, and then left the tickets in her car overnight. As would be expected, the Missouri native didn’t have high hopes for a life changing victory.
This Doesn’t Happen To Us
Cindy told ABC News, “I was just telling my daughter the night before, ‘Honey, that probably never happens (people winning).’” However, that changed quickly enough, the next day as she took her six-year-old to school. As soon as she heard that Missouri had sold a winning ticket, she drove to a convenience store to find out the lucky numbers.
After searching through her tickets and eventually finding the winner, Cindy could not quite believe her eyes, and needed Mark and his mother to confirm the result was what she thought. “I called my husband and told him, ‘I think I am having a heart attack,’” she recalled. “‘I think we just won the lottery!’”
The Hills had just won half of the record jackpot, at $293 million, fixing their financial issues at the time and then some. Mark had been working at a hot dog and deli packaging factory, but he could now definitely take a break and relax. For that reason, his son Jason was delighted as he was worried about his health.
Mark wrote on his social media:’We are truly blessed … we were lucky winners of the powerball!’ he wrote, explaining that he had just wanted to put an end to the chatter circulating their small town. Their son Jason, 26, added at the press conference following the win: ‘I hope we stay grounded and I hope we stay the good people we were yesterday.’
Store Workers Speak Out
This was the largest jackpot prize ever awarded in Missouri and the second largest Powerball jackpot awarded nationally. Cashiers who were there at the time of the win, Kristi Williams and Kelly Blount greeted customers with big smiles and questions about whether they had bought the winning ticket. The store gets $50,000 for selling it. ‘It’s just awesome,’ Williams said. ‘It’s so exciting.’
Any Grand Purchases?
After the win, the couple announced that they considered adopting again. They added that their daughter had asked for a pony, but it would be ‘a while’ before they made any big purchases. ‘I just want to go home and be back to normal,’ Cindy said, adding: ‘Maybe take a nap.’
The couple, who took the money in one big sum, said they wanted to take her to the beach, as she has never been. Cindy retorted:’My husband’s keeping his same old pickup. He did ask for a red Camaro though.’ She added they will set up college funds for their grandchildren, nieces and nephews. They also hope to launch a scholarship fund, and will donate to charities supporting adoption.
Don’t Forget Who You Are
“I’m very happy for him,” Jason told ABC News. “He’s worked hard in his life; well, not any more. Well, I hope we all stay very grounded, stay humble and don’t forget who we are.”
Cindy was wary of the situation and shared her concern: ‘Obviously when it’s that big of a Powerball you’re going to get people coming out of the woodwork and some of them might not be too sane and we have to protect our family,’ she said. ‘This isn’t what I thought it’d be like. I am grateful but I think there’s going to be a lot of not good stuff that comes along with it too.’ Were there to be any rough times ahead?
What Did The Rest Of The Family Think?
Mark’s mother spoke out about the situation:’It’s just a shock,’ she told the news channel. ‘My daughter-in-law came down this morning and she said she was so nervous… and she said, “I think I won that lottery,” and I said, “You’re kidding”.
‘He’s a very good guy,’ their neighbor Rose Downing spoke of Mark. ‘It couldn’t have happened to anyone better. If I couldn’t have won it, I’m glad he won it, cause I think he’ll help the community.’ Yet not all members of the Hill family are quite so innocent, did this win bring out some secrets they wanted to stay hidden?
What Did They Want To Stay Hidden?
One of their sons, 30-year-old Cody, appears to have been convicted on a number of serious charges and has served time behind bars for them. Public records at the Kansas Department of Corrections show, that one of their sons was arrested for arson and criminal damage in 2003 and again for aggravated assault in 2008.
Would They Leave And Never Come Back?
For Cindy, the win gave her the chance of a lifetime, to travel the world with her family, knowing that the troubles of money and having to find menial work would no longer get in the way. “It’s really going to be nice to spend time – not have to work – and be able to take trips with our family,” she said. “We want to go back to China, Ireland of course – we’re Irish – and wherever the win takes us.”
However, three months later, the win led them back home to Missouri. The couple continued to live in Dearborn. Many neighbors and locals who of course heard about their win, were curious and nosy about what the couple was doing with their money and how they were living their lives. Some even were caught snooping on their property.
Time To Act
The couple decided that while they had been blessed with this lottery win, it was their right to share it with the people who had given to them. They began donating money to civic projects in Camden Point, Missouri: Mark’s hometown. Their generosity certainly didn’t go unnoticed among the locals then. What did people think of their win?
Townspeople Speak Out
“They are very conservative people,” Walt Stubbs, a former high-school friend of the Hills and chief of the area’s fire department, told the HuffPost. “They are doing some really nice things for the community and they’ve taken care of their family.” However, their plans for the community didn’t stop there.
The Hills decided that it was time for a new fire station in Camden Point, which would also be big enough to house ambulances. The new facility would offer a direct connection to the main roads, as the old station didn’t have great access to the local highways. Furthermore, the building would also be energy efficient and offer living quarters.
Hit A Sore Point
“It’s a situation where if we had to do it ourselves, it would take 25 years,” Stubbs added. For Mark, this was a very important cause, one that was extremely close to his heart. His father had been saved twice by volunteer firefighters in the past. This was his way of showing his appreciation and giving back.
A Name To Be Remembered
Mark asked KMBC, “How many towns of 500 people have an ambulance service that’s manned 24-7? Very few. I’m proud to be part of that.”
Doesn’t End There
As well as the new fire station, the Hills also paid for a new ball field and donated more than $50,000 to the community. This donated money was then used to buy land for a new sewage treatment plant, which would then allow the residents to eventually give up their individual septic tanks. Camden Point’s mayor Kevin Boydston was unsurprisingly delighted with their generosity.
Catching Attention Now
Boydston told HuffPost, “I’ve said all along that these lottery winnings could not have gone to a better couple. They are giving back to the community, just like they said they would.” The Hills’ old high school benefited from their lottery win also.
The pair both graduated from Dearborn’s North Platte High School, so it was a fitting decision to donate to the school’s scholarship fund. However, while the locals were of course overly appreciative of their actions, Mark’s mother Shirley Hill had something else to say.
What Would She Say
Shirley told HuffPost, “I’m real proud of them. They have stayed grounded. That’s their nature.” She was beaming with pride and couldn’t believe how they used their money to give back to better the community. She read of people that go off the rails and lose all their winnings and have a lottery curse, but she was just so happy that they had chosen to be so charitable.
In Their Honor
On July 16, 2016, the community gave something back to the family. The Camden Point Fire Department officially dedicated its new facility to Mark and Cindy, allowing the locals the chance to celebrate their actions. “He’s very private and he doesn’t like to make a lot of splash about things,” Camden Point Fire Protection District board president Steve Folck said of the former to KCTV.
Can Never Repay Their Kindness
Folck continued, “But he’s done things for the city of Camden Point, for North Platte High School, and it’s ongoing.” Moreover, he added, “I mean his generosity just knows no bounds. It’s just an amazing family.”