NEW HAMPTON — A New Hampton couple who claimed a $2 million Powerball prize Thursday said they first got an inkling of the good news when an email was sent out to all employees at their workplace.
Karla and Keith Elenz both work at an auto parts manufacturing facility in New Hampton and said an inner-office email went out to employees Tuesday after someone saw the big news that the Iowa Lottery had announced for their Chickasaw County community of about 3,500.
“It said, ‘Oh, my gosh! There’s a winner of $2 million in New Hampton. Who bought the ticket? Hopefully someone from our office or that we know!’” recalled Karla Elenz, who claimed the prize with her husband Thursday at lottery headquarters in Clive.
After reading the email, Karla, 53, said she ran out to her vehicle where she had a Powerball ticket tucked into the sun visor. She brought up the winning Powerball numbers from Monday’s drawing on her mobile phone and compared those to the numbers on her ticket. Then she knew she had to find her husband.
Keith Elenz, 55, said he could tell Karla had something big to share, but in the rush of the moment, they understandably had a little trouble communicating.
“She goes, ‘We won!’ And I said, ‘Won what?’” he recalled. “And she goes, ‘Look! Here are the numbers and here’s the ticket!’ And I went, ‘How much did we win?’ She goes, ‘I think $2 million!’ And I went, ‘Nooo.’”
The couple said they kept the news to themselves for the rest of the afternoon, and then their communication difficulties took another amusing turn when they shared the news that evening with family. Karla said that her mother, who is in her 80s, didn’t catch all the details at first.
“She said, ‘You won $2,000!’” Karla Elenz recalled with a laugh. “I said, ‘No.’ ‘Well, $20,000?’ I said, ‘No, add a couple more zeroes!’ She goes, ‘$2 million?!’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ She goes, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ So she didn’t sleep that night at all.”
The Elenzes said that they plan to invest their winnings and help local charities.
“Life is short. I’m going to put my pants on the same way as I did yesterday,” Karla said. “I’m going to work.”
Karla Elenz bought the $2 million-winning ticket at Casey’s, 615 N. Linn Ave. in New Hampton. She chooses her own numbers, playing a set that are significant to her, and her ticket was just one number away from having at least a share of Monday’s $26.8 million jackpot.
Her ticket initially matched the first five numbers but missed the Powerball to win a $1 million prize. But Karla Elenz also added the Power Play option to the purchase, which multiplies the prize at the Match 5 level to $2 million.