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LOTTO JACKPOT NEWS EXCITES VILLAGE

Thursday's announcement that the winning $25 million Lotto jackpot ticket was purchased here was the biggest news to hit this Cattaraugus County village in many a year.

"It's been a zoo since word got out," said Suzy Sperry, who with her husband Larry operates the New Cow Palace, a popular convenience store, livestock feed supply and restaurant on Route 219.

Among the many visitors who dropped into the store Thursday was the man who bought the winning ticket, Harry Stoltz of Bradford, Pa., a retired Dresser-Rand Co. employee. He came in about 9:30 a.m. with his wife, Louise.

"We were asking everyone, 'Are you the winner?' " Mrs. Sperry said. "He didn't say anything, just pulled out the ticket, and we verified the numbers."

"I was ecstatic," she added, "but they were very cool and calm. I don't think it had set in yet. He didn't put it through our system; he went to Buffalo to turn in the ticket."

The Stoltzes were expected to talk about what they would do with their winnings when they are officially introduced in a news conference in the store today. Lottery officials in Buffalo declined to comment Thursday, and the Stoltzes did not return phone calls.

Mrs. Sperry said Stoltz comes into the New Cow Palace regularly to buy lottery tickets, but she did not know his name until Thursday.

She said she opened the store as usual at 7 a.m. Thursday, and as usual, she pulled up the numbers to get some information on the lottery winner.

"Along with the numbers," she said, "I read the winner was from Cattaraugus County but didn't even think about it being our store."

About a half-hour later, a Lotto representative called and informed her that the ticket was purchased at the New Cow Palace.

It's the second time the New Cow Palace has had a big winner, Mrs. Sperry said.

"Our first was a Take Five winner (for $300,000), but that person had to share it with five other winners," she said. "This winner . . . they get the whole $25 million. I still can't believe it happened in our store."

A clerk at the New Cow Palace, John White, 17, of Limestone, estimates he sold 3,000 tickets for the drawing and waited on 300 people Wednesday morning. He doesn't remember selling the ticket to Stoltz.

News Cattaraugus Correspondent Kathy Kellogg contributed to this story.

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