After winning millions of dollars in the Powerball Jackpot, Jeff and Christine Pintuff of Wilton are now poised to take their first extended vacation since 1996. “We can go pretty much wherever we want,” said Jeff, who hinted that their destination will be plotted by his wife.
Coming home from work on Dec. 23, Jeff stopped at the Stewart’s Shop on Route 50 in Wilton where he made a decision that netted him and his wife $8.2 million apiece after taxes. As a faithful lottery player, but never a big winner, the jackpot of $48.8 million was about one million times Jeff’s second largest winnings of $50 or $60.
“I put the ticket on the fridge under a magnet like I always do,” he said. “Never gave it a second thought until the morning after the drawing.”
The Friday morning announcement in the South Concourse of the Empire State Plaza ended more than a month of suspense that had gripped the Capital Region, as the winners of the Christmas Day drawing didn’t come forward to claim their prize until Feb. 1 at the New York Lottery’s Customer Service Center in Schenectady. During that time speculation arose that the winners had lost their ticket. In reality, the winning ticket was safely nestled in a safe deposit box and the Pintuffs were interviewing financial planners and tax attorneys to ensure a smooth transition into their new status as millionaires.
It was on Dec. 27 that Jeff finally checked and rechecked his ticket online. Initially his wife assumed they had only guessed a portion of the six lottery numbers, but eventually her husband conveyed to her the magnitude of their good luck.
In an event emceed by New York Lottery personality Yolanda Vega, the Pintuffs, both 58 and very recently retired, were all smiles as they accepted an oversized novelty check.
Christine Pintuff, who had been a registered nurse at Saratoga Hospital, revealed that she had followed her husband and taken early retirement in the wake of their financial security. Giving her two weeks’ notice just days before claiming the prize, she said she wouldn’t miss going to work anymore, but would miss her co-workers.
Jeff Pintuff was a little more coy with his departure from his quality assurance job at Atlas Copco in Voorheesville. His co-workers thought he was searching for a new job because he told them he was going on interviews, although only he knew that he was the one conducting the interviews.
The announcement on Friday threw the Pintuffs into a spotlight that they had avoided for more than 40 days by keeping their good news almost entirely to themselves, with their children being the only people let in on the secret. Christine said, “It was hard to keep such a big secret, but we just weren’t ready to tell anyone.”
It got particularly hard to keep things quiet when the issue of the mystery winners became a regular topic for conversation in the area. As people speculated about the winners and mused about what they would do with an influx of cash, Jeff said they had to distance themselves. “We stayed away from those conversations,” he said.
The Pintuffs have yet to make a purchase with their lottery winnings and claimed Friday that they still hadn’t come to grips with their new wealth. The Pintuffs so far have very modest plans, as evidenced by the fact that Jeff doesn’t plan on immediately replacing his car that has 163,000 miles on it. “My children keep telling me I need a new car,” said Jeff, who plans on driving at least another 40,000 miles with his current car.
As a reward for selling the winning ticket, the New York Lottery awarded the Wilton Stewart’s Shop a check for $10,000. Dan Yakush, the store manager that sold the winning ticket to Jeff, was on hand Friday to accept his company’s prize, which he said will be going into the company’s general operating fund. Regarding the Pintuffs, who are regular customers, Yakush said they are great people.
During the ceremony the Pintuffs weren’t the only big winners from the New York Lottery, with retired New York City fireman and current Greene County resident Stephen Kirwan claiming $122.1 million in Powerball winnings.
The New York Lottery began selling Powerball tickets more than a year ago, during which time they’ve sold $200 million in tickets and generated $90 million for state education money.
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