Firefighter claims huge Powerball prize during solar eclipse. ‘Once-in-a-lifetime’

As millions of Americans watched the total solar eclipse grace Midwest skies, firefighter Trent Baker was inside the Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive claiming a “once-in-a-lifetime” prize.

“That’s not lost on me!” Baker told officials in an April 8 news release. “I was making the joke that man, there’s a lot going on this weekend: an earthquake in New York, a total eclipse, I won the lottery. What else is going to happen next? Maybe we shouldn’t ask that question.”

Baker won $1 million in an April 6 Powerball drawing, according to lottery officials. He was one of seven $1 million winners who were just one number away from getting a share of the $1.326 billion jackpot.

After scanning his winning ticket on the Lottery app, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“I saw a 1 and a bunch of zeroes and I wasn’t quite sure what it was right away, if it was a million, if it was a billion,” Baker said. “At that moment, it was panic mode.”

Even his mother couldn’t believe the news.

“I called my mom and was like, ‘I just won the lottery!’” he said. “And she was like, ‘No you didn’t.’ And I could tell she didn’t believe me. And I was like, ‘I wouldn’t call you at 6:45 in the morning if I didn’t win the lottery!’”

To make his win feel like a reality, he took his ticket to the convenience store to have it scanned. The $1 million win was confirmed a second time.

The firefighter headed into work that Saturday to share the news with his co-workers, but he soon left to research his next steps. After speaking with a financial advisor, he determined he should pay off his student loans and invest the money for his retirement.

“I don’t want to squander it and have to try to work harder for it all over again,” he told lottery officials. “That was kind of my motivation behind it: This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, let’s make it last as much as possible.”

He also told lottery officials he’ll have to spend some of his winnings on treats for the fire department.

“It’s kind of an unwritten rule that if you get caught in the media, if you get pictures or video in the media and you’re easily identifiable, that you owe the department ice cream,” he said. “And, I owe a lot of ice cream.”

Clive is about a 10-mile drive west from Des Moines.

What to know about Powerball

To score a jackpot in the Powerball, a player must match all five white balls and the red Powerball.

The odds of scoring the jackpot prize are 1 in 292,201,338.

Tickets can be bought on the day of the drawing, but sales times and price vary by state.

Drawings are broadcast Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays at 10:59 p.m. ET and can be streamed online.

Powerball is played in 45 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Many people can gamble or play games of chance without harm. However, for some, gambling is an addiction that can ruin lives and families.

If you or a loved one shows signs of gambling addiction, you can seek help by calling the national gambling hotline at 1-800-522-4700 or visiting the National Council on Problem Gambling website.

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