Good fortune on the 4th
KATIE WARGO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Independence Day Cash Five winners Ben and Kerrie Gelezinsky of White Haven hold a presentation check in the amount of $725,000 outside the Wilkes-Barre PA Lottery Commission office after having submitted the winning ticket to officials Tuesday morning. They were the sole winners of the jackpot on the Fourth of July.
Fortune shined on a local couple from White Haven on Independence Day as Ben and Kerrie Gelezinsky learned shortly after 7 p.m. that evening they were the sole winners of a $725,000 Cash Five jackpot in the Pennsylvania Lottery.
"It's outstanding," said Kerrie when asked how it felt to win the Cash Five jackpot. "I couldn't believe it when I read the numbers. We had gotten three (numbers) a while ago so when I saw that it was exciting. But then as I checked the fourth and fifth numbers I realized we might have won."
Kerrie started screaming "Oh, my God!" when she realized all five numbers matched their ticket waking her husband up from a nap.
"I thought something happened the way she was yelling in the kitchen so I went out to see what was wrong. That's when she said, 'We just won the Cash Five'", said husband Ben.
Gelezinsky said his wife called her mother to make sure the numbers she wrote were correct. Her mother verified the numbers as the same as the ones she wrote down as they were drawn. He said she went on the computer then just to make sure everyone was right.
"I must have checked those numbers 20 times," Kerrie said. "I just couldn't believe it."
Ben said it was a few minutes after eight when the PA Lottery's website verified the numbers and posted the payout indicating that not only did the couple win, but they were the only winners in the game.
"It feels great," Ben said when asked how it felt to know they were the sole winners. He said he usually stopped by Joe's Quick Mart in White Haven to buy his ticket for the Cash Five early in the morning, but he was delayed on July 4th when his brother stopped by for a visit. "I ended up going at 11:40 that morning instead, almost two hours later than I usually go." He brought the ticket home and placed it on the kitchen table and didn't think about it again.
Later, when the numbers were drawn, Kerrie wrote them down and realized they matched all five. The couple was excited but did not want to say too much until they could get the ticket verified by Lottery officials. Their daughter and son-in-law drove them to the Wilkes-Barre office of the lottery early Tuesday morning as they were worried about keeping the ticket any longer than necessary. "We didn't want anything to happen to it," said Ben.
A half hour later, they were ecstatic to learn that they were correct. They were the winners of the $725,000 Cash Five jackpot.
"We feel very fortunate," said Ben. He added that they plan to pay off their house, pay some bills and buy a truck with some of the windfall.
"After that we just hope to be able to help our family," he said.
Gelezinsky said he never won such a large jackpot himself before Monday but added that in the White Haven area they are the third winners of large jackpots since last year.
When asked if he would play it again, he said, "Sure. You never know when Lady Luck will smile again."