A lesson worth $31.5 million

Big Game: Couple's insistence that jackpot not distract from their sons' studies was remarkable.

June 19, 1999

WITH MANY questioning the commitment of parents to providing guidance for their children, the news about lottery winners George and Celia Poteet was like a beacon slicing through fog.

After they hit the $31.5 million Big Game jackpot, twice as big as the previous largest Big Game prize in Maryland, the couple from Millersville knew that they and their children were guaranteed a comfortable life.

However, the Poteets didn't immediately report their winning ticket to lottery officials; for three weeks, they kept their impending fortune a secret because they didn't want their teen-age sons distracted before final exams at Old Mill High School. We've seen enough evidence of parents allowing young children to be exposed to things they are not ready for, including guns and gratuitous violence in films. Although many might not think a $31 million infusion into the household budget belongs on the list of things children need protection from, the Poteets did.

Until they informed their boys on the last day of school, they only shared their secret with a family friend, who is an accountant, and Mrs. Poteet's mother.

Their ability to contain their excitement to allow their sons to concentrate on classwork and to insulate them from attention was a refreshing parable about priorities.

They gave their children a rich lesson on the value of education.

And on the responsibility of being a parent, an apropos message on the eve of Father's Day.

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