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Millionaires Have Bartender To Thank

Frank and Shirley Capaci are comfortable indulging their friends a bit these days.

They are convinced they hold the winning $195 million Powerball ticket, and the way neighbors see it, that would make the retired couple the deserving millionaires next door.

The Capacis bought drinks for the house Thursday at Bill's on Barnett, a tavern and pizza hangout where a day earlier the retired electrician had paid a bartender $5 for a chance at winning the nation's largest lottery jackpot.

Lottery officials have not confirmed that the couple actually won, but it seemed apparent to hometown folks in this suburb northwest of Chicago that the Capacis had beaten 80-million-to-1 odds against picking the winning numbers.

Illinois is not among the 20 states that take part in Powerball. Two bartenders from Bill's drove to a Wisconsin grocery just north of the Illinois state line Wednesday and bought tickets on behalf of about 15 customers, including the Capacis, said their son, Brian Capaci.

The $5 tickets were passed out in sealed envelopes Thursday afternoon.

Brian Capaci said his mom telephoned with the news.

"At first I didn't believe her, but then she started crying," he said. "I didn't know what to do. I was shaking and crying, too."

CBS News Correspondent Frank Currier reports that lottery officials are looking at Wisconsin as a good luck charm. Lottery chairman Don Walsh says multiple powerball wins have turned Wisconsin into "the miracle state."

"Wisconsin has the one and two world jackpot records of $111 million in Fond Du Lac [in 1993], and now $105 million here in Pell Lake," he said.

The Capacis haven't said what they would do with the money, but Mrs. Capaci, a retired secretary, hinted that no lavish lifestyles or wild spending sprees were in the works.

Neighbors decked out the Capacis' modest single-story house with signs and green streamers to celebrate their apparent good fortune.

"[This neighborhood is] very middle class. Everybody's hard working. So it's good to see something nice happen to someone," said Patrice Prato, who lives down the block.

Capaci, 67, and Mrs. Capaci, 62, are a bit overwhelmed by their sudden fame and fortune.

Asked what he was going to do with the jackpot, the burly gray-haired Capaci said, "I don't know yet. I ain't never been a millionaire before."

Lottery officials said they would arrange for the Capacis to bring in their ticket for verification. It was purchased in Pell Lake, Wis., and the buyer designated on the stub he would take a $104 million lump sum instead of $7.7 million a year for 25 years. Half of that total will go to the government for taxes, Currier reports.

"The news just spread like wildfire," said Prato, a neighbor. "They're very nice people. I'm so happy for them."

Bob Younglove said he moved into the neighborhood bout the same time as the Capacis after he and Frank had returned from fighting in the Korean War.

"I heard it on the radio and almost fell out of my car," Younglove said of the jackpot. "They deserve it."

The Capacis avoided a crowd Thursday evening by staying at Bill's Tavern, where they are regulars.

"I've got a lot of friends today," Frank said as he looked around the smoky and crowded bar. "I still don't believe it."

The previous biggest jackpot ever won in the United States was $118.8 million in the California lottery in 1991. But that was split 10 ways.

Patrons of Bill's seemed to genuinely enjoy the proximity to such good fortune.

"I'm glad somebody I know hit the dang thing," said Bernie Szydlo, who was one of the 15 from Bill's who bought tickets. "I feel I was a part of it."

Sherry Olejniczak is another Bill's regular who purchased a ticket.

"It couldn't have happened to a nicer couple," she said. "I love them. We're like family here."