Brooklyn Park couple wins Md.'s $6 million lottery

February 20, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

Gina Betz drove a cab 12 hours a day to keep the family together. Living with her unemployed husband and two children in a $12-a-day hotel, the Betzes couldn't afford even a telephone.

Now, they could buy their own cab company.

The Brooklyn Park couple pulled in $6 million in the Maryland lottery last week, an instant rags-to-riches tale.

"We've had a lot of hard times, but we have a lot of good times to come," Mrs. Betz, 26, said yesterday morning, receiving the first check from a lottery commissioner.

For the last six months, the Betzes and their children, Tiffany, 7, and Joey, 2, have lived in the Pennington Hotel, a dreary building filled with hard-luck cases.

Edward Betz, 33, lost his job driving a cement truck two years ago.

Since then, Mrs. Betz said, the couple has wandered from one bad situation to another.

"We lived in a tent, on the street. We've been through everything," she said.

Mr. Betz says he bought a ticket every week at the Pennington Supermarket, hoping to hit it big.

They did, with an initial payment of $297,000 and 19 annual payments of $291,000, before taxes.

The family showed up half an hour late for yesterday's check presentation because Mr. Betz couldn't be persuaded to get out of bed, said his wife.

Asked if he was happy, Mr. Betz said, "I am, but I ain't."

But later, he said he was "real happy," but he doesn't intend to "play Mr. Businessman. I'm a simple guy and I want a simple life," he said.

"That's how I am and I don't want to change."

Already, though, the changes have been blessings, said Mrs. Betz.

The Betzes already have bought two $20,000 Dodge Ram pickups -- a short-bed for her, a long-bed for him.

They also hope to build a house in the country and take their children to Disney World.

But they're too excited to plan beyond that.

"We're going to invest and kick back," said Mr. Betz.

"If anybody deserves this, it's her," he added, hugging his wife.

Mrs. Betz earned between $10 and $100 a day driving for the B & R Cab Co.

She was in her cab last Thursday when the radio crackled with the news: Eddie had just won $6 million.

"I said, 'Don't mess with my head!' " she responded.

"It wouldn't happen to us! But it was true."

The couple, both graduates of Andover High School, said they want to help other residents of the low-budget hotel on Pennington Avenue where they've lived for the past six months.

"It's a cold world. We want to help them out," said Mrs. Betz.

She and her husband said they also want to repay the kindnesses of local churches that helped them survive the worst times.

The flood of cash won't "solve all our problems," said Mrs. Betz.

"But it can get you things you need."

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