Hard-working Santa Cruz, CA man wins $39M

Finally someone deserving wins the big bucks:

SANTA CRUZFor 20 years Clyde Persley worked more than 60 hours a week making candy, driving limousines and waiting by the phone to pick up extra hours at a restaurant. He bought lottery tickets and hoped for his big break.

And he got it.

Persley, 49, turned in his winning SuperLotto Plus ticket to the California Lottery office Tuesday night, said California Lottery spokeswoman Cathy Doyle Johnston, and will receive a check for about $16 million in four to six weeks.

“I’m so happy for my family,” said Persley, who is married with a 4-year-old daughter. “We gotta’ get the money first, but we are definitely not going to waste it.”

Persley’s big plans? To sit on it.

“The next step is to get financial advisors,” he said Wednesday outside his apartment building off Soquel Drive near Dominican Hospital. “But I have to take my wife to Hawaii. She really wants that.”

Persley is a Santa Cruzan through and through. He was born in Santa Cruz and he graduated from Santa Cruz High in 1977.

Twice a week, Persley would stop in at the Santa Cruz Market, the Westside store that will get $140,000 for selling the winning ticket, to play the lottery.

“I always imagined I would walk into the store and find out that I won,” he said.

And that’s what happened Monday.

When he went into the market to buy lotto tickets, Bankook Choi, the store owner, told him the store had won and to check his tickets. Persley went to visit his wife, Pauline, at work and checked the numbers in the parking lot. All six numbers matched.

“I felt calm, and just so happy,” he said. “I told my wife and she started screaming and jumping up and down.”

Persley has been working three jobs for the past six years to support his family. He worked part-time as a limousine driver and on-call at El Palomar restaurant, but he worked full-time for Santa Cruz Nutritionals, formerly Harmony Foods, operating candy-making machines.

Although he no longer has to work, Persley finds it hard to think about leaving his job.

“I really appreciate my life with Harmony Foods,” he said of his 26-year stint there. “I can’t say enough how much my work has meant to me.”

While there are no plans for penthouses or private jets just yet, Persley does see relaxation and family time in his future.

“People think we are going to jump up and start spending all our money,” he said. “But that’s just not the way this works.”

His priorities include a college fund for his daughter, support for his mother and his father-in-law and travelling.

“I want to live a quiet life without stress,” Persley said. “There is not much more you could ask for.”

santa cruz beach boardwalk

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