It took almost eight years, but a group of Rapid City women who get together to quilt each week and play a little lottery along the way finally hit a big payday this week.
The 17 quilters who chip in two bucks each a week won $55,000 on a $5 Cash Deluxe scratch-off lottery ticket this week, making each lady $2,426 richer after taxes.
"I didn't believe my eyes at first," said quilter Betty Richards, affectionately known by her pals as "Elizabeth the Lottery Bookie."
Richards said that after she scratched off the winning ticket she asked her husband to confirm what she saw. When he said, "It looks to me like you won $55,000," Richards started calling 16 "very excited" women.
But first, she said, she called the South Dakota Lottery, where she was advised to sign the winning ticket and to put it in a secure place.
Richards, Shari West-Twitero and 15 other women meet Tuesday mornings at a local church to quilt. Since April 2005, they've each contributed $2 per week to a lottery pool and Richards uses the money to buy Powerball, Wild Card, Hot Lotto, Dakota Cash and an assortment of scratch-off tickets each week.
"They call me their lottery bookie and every week they ask me, 'Are we rich yet?'" Richards said.
The payday was a welcome win, but alas, it still won't fund their quilting retirement home dream.
"We call it the 'Quilters Sweet Seventeen Redneck Retirement Plan for the Big House,'" Richards joked.
Over the years, the quilters have dreamed of winning a multimillion-dollar payout and laughed about their plan to then build a retirement villa large enough for all of them, their husbands and their quilting supplies.
"We've laughed that if we ever hit the big one, we'd build our quilting hacienda, kind of the West Hills Village of Quilting," said West-Twitero.
"The dream was, we'll build the big house for the quilters ... and we'd each have our own condo. It has been just several years of a lot of laughs. Certainly worth the $2 a week," said Richards.
The payout, after it was taxed 25 percent and split 17 ways, isn't going to cover that cost. "But in the meantime, it's a heck of a big grin," West-Twitero said.
"This is certainly our biggest win, but there have been others," said Richards, who also serves as the group's record keeper. "We're definitely money ahead now."
Both Richards and West-Twitero said a portion of their winnings will go to charities of their choosing.
Richards said she doesn't need any more quilting supplies. She owns at least seven sewing machines, at last count, including a new industrial-sized Juki machine.
And like most quilters, she has more fabric than she'll ever use, though that won't keep her from buying more. "We like to be prepared," she said of quilters. "I'm not planning any big shopping spree, but I'll buy what I want."
In addition to Richards and West-Twitero, the group includes Shirley Soucy, Carol Doyle, Marie Brewer, Anna M. Paul, Darlene Huettl, Jean Stenberg, Bev Peterson, Marjorie Redman, Celia Bradley, Gwynn Hansen, Rebecca Smith, Dawn Hansen, Rhonda Jenner, Darlene Geboe, and Joan Schauer, lottery officials said. The $5 winning ticket was purchased at the East St. Patrick Street Family Thrift in Rapid City.