Louisville Magazine

AUG 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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28 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.14 fear and anxiety. And then, once the four-foot celebratory check is presented, it hits them. "I can see it on their face," Polston says. "It's something about that darn four-foot check that brings them remarkable joy." Twenty-one years ago, Polston, now 47, had some college friends in town for a Van Halen concert when his buddies dared him to audi- tion for an ad in the paper that was looking for TV talent. Having worked in radio and TV in Bowling Green, the Louisville native was producing TV news stories for U of L when the lottery hired him to do the drawings. Ten years ago he was ofered his current role, which, in addition to getting wake-up calls, includes prepping winners for press conferences. Some jackpot winners choose to claim anon- ymously and dodge the press conference, but Polston urges against it, as the Kentucky Lot- tery is an open-records company and must re- lease the names of the winners and the counties where they live. "Now it becomes a story of, 'Why don't they want to talk to us?'" he says. "It goes from being the happy reporters to the investigative reporters. Tey're going to knock on your door and ask you questions on your porch. One reporter told me that if we ever had a big winner like that who won't go public, the artwork in the newspaper the next morning, instead of them holding the big long check, is going to be their mug shot if they have one. If they fnd a divorce decree that's ever been issued with your name on it? Bingo. Tey're going to fnd your ex-spouse. We had one win- ner that tried to remain anonymous and pretty much that's what happened." Polston tells the winners exactly which questions they'll be asked, sends them home and the public usually forgets about the win within 72 hours. A fter Rob Anderson's initial realization, he signs the ticket, puts it in a safe and gets in touch with a law frm in Lexington. He explains that he has come into some money — a large inheritance — and wants to know how to handle it. When he feels comfortable enough to tell the lawyers that he just won the lottery, they don't believe him at www.brazeiros.com we even hear from you," Polston tells me when I visit the ofce one morning in mid-June. Within a few days, the operations center gets a call from the winner, presumably, who usually asks a lot of what-if questions and doesn't reveal his name. ("What if I'm the winner? Where do I go?") "One of the frst things we tell people is that you don't have to be in a rush to get down here. You have 180 days. Talk to an attorney, talk to a CPA about the tax ramifcations. It takes a team of people to manage this kind of money," Polston says. "A lot of times, people just want to get rid of that ticket. Tey've got this piece of paper that's literally worth millions and millions of dollars." An 8½-by-11 sheet of paper with the words "DO NOT ENTER" printed on it is taped to a door across from the front desk at the lottery ofce. Polston opens the door and leads me in. "Tis is where we sequester the jackpot winners," he says. Te L-shaped space looks like a doctors' waiting room and has its own bathroom, a few chairs, a landline phone, a couple of TVs displaying the news to show the winner what the media are up to out front, and framed newspaper clippings about former win- ners. "I've heard some amazing conversations on this phone that almost always start with, 'You're never going to believe this, but…'" Polston says. "I have picked people up of the foor of this room before. I have been cried on. I have been thrown up on. I have been hugged more times than you can imagine." He tells me about a lady who came in with her husband because he thought he had won $15,000 and she was giving him a hard time. He's always wrong. He never wins anything. Just tell him he didn't win. As Polston told her that, yes, they had won, the poor woman puked on him. He tells me about a mountain of a man — a coal miner from Hardin County who, Polston says, was probably six-feet-seven-inches tall and 350 pounds — who came in thinking he had won $1 million but calculated it wrong. "I said 'four point eight' and his legs went out from under him. It took two of us to get him back up," Polston says. Most winners go through the same stages of emotions: disbelief, joy, then "I have picked people up off the foor of this room before. I have been cried on. I have been thrown up on. I have been hugged more times than you can imagine." — Kentucky Lottery's Chip Polston

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