DEARBORN, Mo. — Mike and Cindy Hill know the vultures are coming. They wouldve expected it anyway, because thats what happens in America when people win the lottery. So theyre not surprised the business offers started coming in before they were even officially introduced as the winners of nearly $300 million.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
But they probably didnt expect a request from a baseball All-Star.
Hey Powerball winner/Royals fan in MO, Royals slugger Billy Butler posted on Twitter. ...feel free to drop some $$$ off at the stadium... it will be put to good use! #pitching #spreadthelove
The Hills had a news conference Friday at North Platte High School, where they first fell in love. The gym was packed with at least 14 television cameras and what looked like the entire enrollment of this Class 1 school. They talked a lot about staying grounded, still going for breakfast at the Corner Café, and using the money for their church, charities and scholarships.
Those are fine causes and all, but everyone knows the Royals need pitching and that owner David Glass is apparently just scraping by, so I told the Hills about Butlers tweet, wondering if maybe theyd set aside $10 million or so to help out with a contract for Anibal Sanchez or something.
They just laughed.
The Royals connection goes deeper, though, but it took a real fan to notice when the winning numbers were announced: 5, 16, 22, 23 and 29, with a Powerball of 6.
In other words: George Brett, Bo Jackson, Dennis Leonard, Mark Gubicza, Dan Quisenberry (or Mike Sweeney) with a Powerball of Willie Wilson.
Some obvious thoughts: Why would Wilson be the Powerball? Wouldnt Bo have been the more logical choice? And wont Frank White, No. 20, take this as another sign of disrespect?
Anyway, when it was announced that the winning ticket with those numbers was sold in the Kansas City area, many began to wonder if two solid decades of inept baseball had suddenly turned into an Alex Rodriguez contracts worth of good karma for a Royals fan.
Well, as it turns out not so much. The Hills didnt pick the numbers. A computer did.
Totally random, Cindy said. Although we do love the Royals.
As some have joked already, even if the Royals owned the winning ticket, they probably wouldve traded it for a low-level prospect and future Scratchers considerations.
So the next natural question, this one for Mike: If you did pick six Royals for a lottery ticket, who would they be?
Frank White, George Brett, Hal McRae, Amos Otis, and, I cant think of anymore, Mike said. Theres a pause. Oh, Freddy Patek.
And perhaps thats the most Royals thing in all of this. Mike could only think of five.
The mans mind is surely racing, though.
They can use the money. He was out of work for a while before catching on as a nightshift mechanic at Hillshire Brands in St. Joseph. Cindy was laid off as an office manager two years ago, and actually had a telephone interview for a new job on Thursday but missed the call. She wont call back, and Mikes worked his last day.
Thats the way it goes with lottery winners, of course.
The Hills say theyll take a nice vacation with some relatives, and have a pretty good Christmas, but other than that try to live normal lives. Their 6-year-old daughter, Jaiden, for instance, wont get the pony shes been asking for.
But they dont plan to move far from Dearborn, a small town about halfway between Kansas City and St. Joseph. No major luxuries for this family.
Its like, how much does a person need? Cindy said.
Well, actually, thats the thing. Theres this guy who owns this baseball team in town that needs some starting pitchers .
To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send email to email@example.com or follow twitter.com/mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com