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SW Iowa Woman Plays Family Birthdays As Powerball® Numbers, Wins $30,000 Prize

Meri Kernen of Villisca Wins Big Prize in Feb. 15 drawing

Meri Kernen   Hear Meri tell her story.

DES MOINES, Iowa - A southwest Iowa woman played her family's birth dates in a recent Powerball drawing and ended up winning a big prize.

Meri Kernen of Villisca matched four white balls and the Powerball in the Feb. 15 drawing to win a $10,000 prize. And since she added the Power Play® option to her ticket for an extra dollar, her prize multiplied to $30,000.

The winning numbers in that night's Powerball drawing were 2-9-14-21-23 and Powerball 3. The Power Play number drawn was 3. Wednesday's jackpot is an estimated $110 million.

Kernen said she is an occasional Powerball player and the $330.8 million jackpot for the Feb. 15 drawing prompted her to buy a ticket Feb. 14 at Villisca Foods, 509 S. Third Ave. in Villisca.

"Both my daughters' birthdays and my oldest grandson's birthday were all that week and it just seemed to be the thing to do," Kernen said. "Something just kind of told me I ought to do that."

The 63-year-old said she didn't realize she had won until she returned to Villisca Foods a week later to buy some milk for mother. She used a self-scanner at the store to check her ticket and couldn't believe what she saw.

"I looked down and thought, 'Good grief, how many zeroes is that?'" Kernen said.

Kernen said she asked a store clerk if what she saw was correct.

"I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry or jump up and down, or a little of each," she said.

Kernen said she was going to Council Bluffs on a shopping trip with one of her daughters last week and decided to stop in the lottery's regional office to claim her prize.

"I wasn't in any big hurry to have it in my pocket, but (I've) been deciding what to do with it," Kernen told lottery employees April 8 as she claimed her prize.

Kernen, who is semi-retired, said her money will be used to pay bills and help with retirement.

Winning numbers may be checked at the lottery website at or through the winning numbers hot line at (515) 323-4633. Winning numbers may also be checked with lottery retail outlets or by calling the lottery at (515) 725-7900 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Players may visit the Iowa Lottery at 2323 Grand Ave. in Des Moines or go to one of the lottery's regional offices in Council Bluffs, Storm Lake, Mason City or Cedar Rapids to claim prizes.

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