Tony Newbill, of Powell Butte, matched four out of five numbers playing the Powerball lottery game

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Powell Butte resident Tony Newbill claimed his winning Powerball ticket worth $50,000 on Monday, June 23. He plans to use the winnings to upgrade his ranch.

Powell Butte resident Tony Newbill was settling in to enjoy his morning cup of coffee before putting in a day out on the ranch.

This particular morning in early June, he sat down in front of his computer, Powerball lottery ticket in hand, to find out whether or not it was his lucky day.

As the first number matched, then the second, then the third, excitement began to mount for the frequent player. By the time he was done checking his numbers, Newbill confirmed four matching numbers out of five, plus a 5-times multiplier, resulting in a $50,000 prize.

“Of course, a little coffee got all over me after I saw what was starting to look like a win,” he recalled. “It was a shocker, it really was.”

The five-figure win put Newbill in rare company in Crook County. According to Oregon Lottery spokesman Patrick Johnson, only six local residents have won a Powerball prize of $1,000 or more since 2000. Only two of them were living in Powell Butte, with one winner claiming $10,000 in 2007 and another collecting $40,000 in 2008. In fact, the only prize that his failed to eclipse was a $200,000 jackpot won by a Prineville resident in 2011.

Though this was the biggest lottery win to date, it was not the first time that his numbers selection yielded thousands. He has won a couple Megabucks drawings, the last of which was in 2012 and paid out several thousand dollars.

When it comes to his selection process, Newbill eschews picking numbers of personal significance in favor of a more pattern-based approach.

“I try to go in there and look back at how the numbers have drawn in the past,” he said. “You kind of start to see patterns and you see ones that haven’t come up for a while in the columns.”

Such was the case with his $50,000 selection. He had based his $15 ticket purchase at Bandits of Redmond on observations he had made with prior drawings.

Newbill believes the practice gives him a slight edge, but readily acknowledges that luck remains the primary decider in who wins or loses. He wasn’t expecting to win this much money.

“It’s not a fool-proof system by any means,” he said.

After taxes, Newbill collected $34,000. The rancher, who grew up in Madras, moved to Arizona in the late 1990s, and returned to Powell Butte two years ago, doesn’t plan to spend the winnings on anything extravagant.

“I have a black hole called a farm,” he joked. “It helped the farm budget immensely.”

Newbill plans to purchase several upgrades, including more irrigation on his 160-acre property, some power line improvements, and the addition of more cattle.

“We have about 100 head of cattle and our family has been doing this for a long time,” he said.

The big prize pleasantly surprised his family members, including his wife, son who works in Prineville, and his sister who has played some lottery of her own.

“She has been in a pool with people in the office (in Portland),” Newbill remarked, “and she said, ‘You gave us hope.’”

Having missed the multi-million-dollar jackpot by one number, the lucky rancher plans to find a new batch of numbers and keep his once-a-week play going, in hopes of one day hitting the big one.

“You can’t win unless you play,” he concluded.

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